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Some Teachers Won’t Show Up To School Monday As Aldermen Say They Are ‘Deeply Concerned’ About CPS Reopening Plan

"CPS wants to force pre-K and special education cluster teachers back into buildings on Monday, six days before Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's most recent stay-at-home order expires," officials with the teachers union said.

A sign in a Chicago school hallway reminding students to keep 6 feet distance apart.
Stacey Rupolo/Chalkbeat
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CHICAGO — Chicago Public Schools expects 5,800 teachers to return to the classroom Monday morning — but some of them won’t be there, the teachers union announced Sunday.

In a Sunday news release, Chicago Teachers Union officials said it would hold a 6:30 a.m. press conference Monday to “lay out why they and their fellow educators are rejecting returning to in-person work on Monday.”

While CPS has previously said teachers who refuse to return to work could be fired, the Tribune reports the union will provide legal support to teachers who are too afraid to go back to the classroom.

RELATED: Chicago Teachers, Families Worried As Schools Near Reopening: ‘CPS Is Not Prepared To Bring Kids Back Safely’

“CPS wants to force pre-K and special education cluster teachers back into buildings on Monday, six days before Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s most recent stay-at-home order expires — and before health professionals can gauge any additional post-holiday risk of spread,” the union said in a statement. “At the same time, more than two-thirds of Black and Brown parents have rejected in-person learning despite pressure from CPS to agree to send students back starting on January 11, putting the lie to the mayor’s ‘equity’ claims that schools are being reopened to serve the District’s overwhelmingly non-white students.”

CPS and Lightfoot announced last month a staggered plan to get kids back in the classroom starting Jan. 11. Lightfoot said it was a matter of equity, and that Black and Brown students were falling behind learning from home. But when parents were given the chance to decide whether to keep their kids in remote learning or send them back to the classroom, white and middle-income families were more likely to opt for in-person instruction, WBEZ reported:

Some 31% of Latino and 33.9% Black families said they would send their children into classes; these students make up more than 80% of students in the district.

Meanwhile, 67.5% of white and 33% of Asian parents said their children would be back. Only about 15% of the students in the district are white or Asian.

The union’s announcement comes the same day as a 32 City Council members sent a letter to Lightfoot and school’s chief Janice Jackson saying that they were “deeply concerned” about CPS’ plan for reopening schools and asked for detailed plans to be put into place to keep students and teachers safe.

“We are deeply concerned that Chicago Public Schools’ current plan for students and staff to return to school buildings does not meet the district’s objective of increasing equity for students, and fails to adequately address a number of safety concerns identified by parents, students, and staff in light of the ongoing pandemic,” the letter reads.

Pre-kindergarten and some special education teachers are expected back in the classrooms Monday, followed by those students Jan. 11. On Jan. 25, kindergarten through 8th grade teachers are expected back in the classroom, followed by hybrid learning K-8 students on Feb. 1.

Read the full letter from aldermen to Lightfoot and Jackson here.

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