CTU tells members to report to work Monday, but plans vote later in the week on whether to work remotely without CPS approval

CTU leaders told members Sunday evening that the union plans to hold a vote on whether to begin teaching remotely Wednesday.

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Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey speaks at a news conference in November. Sunday night, CTU leaders told union members to report to work but anticipate a vote on working remotely possibly later this week.

Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey speaks at a news conference in November. Sunday night, CTU leaders told union members to report to work but anticipate a vote on working remotely possibly later this week.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file photo

Chicago Teachers Union leaders told members during a closed-door town hall call Sunday evening to report to school Monday, but they plan to gauge support for a district-wide remote learning action later this week.

On Tuesday, the CTU plans to call a meeting of its House of Delegates, elected members who represent their schools, to discuss a citywide action. The union will also hold an electronic vote of its members on whether they approve of working remotely without CPS permission. If both are in favor, the union plans to take action and do so starting Wednesday, demanding better COVID-19 safety protocols, including increased testing and access to better masks.

Certain charter schools decided to conduct virtual learning this week because of a spike in COVID-19 cases. At Plato Learning Academy, an American Quality Schools charter and Chicago Public Schools contract school in South Austin, first grade students will learn remotely until Jan. 10 after a staff member normally in the classroom tested positive for the virus, said Principal Charles Williams.

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“As of the last day of school... of our nine classrooms, only three were in building, and we only had 14 kids show up,” Williams said. “I’m assuming that as we move into the new year, cases will start popping up.”

Williams said he thinks all students should learn remotely this week, though it would only be effective if CPS families took the time seriously to ensure coming back to school healthy.

Some schools are taking matters into their own hands. Teachers and parents at Park Manor Elementary School plan to teach and learn remotely Monday without administrative permission. Just before winter break, at least two dozen students and staff at the Greater Grand Crossing community school tested positive for COVID-19, sending the majority of the school into quarantine, according to a CTU news release.

In response to questions about mounting pressure to switch schools to online learning, CPS sent the Chicago Sun-Times the letter sent out to district families Sunday evening, saying “there are no plans to transition the entire district to remote learning.” Students don’t need to be tested before returning to the classroom, but parents should keep their children home if they show any symptoms of the virus.

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