Chicago Teachers Union Votes To Defy In-Person Classroom Return CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JANUARY 25: A sign outside of Columbus Elementary School lets visitors know that the playground has been closed on January 25, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. Chicago Public School teachers were scheduled to return to the classroom for in-person learning today, but the union objected and voted to continue remote learning. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) Scott Olson / Staff
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Chicago Teachers Refuse To Teach In Person

It’s Thursday, January 6th, and this is your Morning Wire. Listen to the full podcast:

1) Chicago Teachers Refuse To Teach In Person

The Topline: More than 340,000 students in Chicago have been shut out of their schools after the teachers union there voted to abstain from in-person learning, citing concerns over the omicron variant. 

Quote Of The Day:

“If people want to be compensated, they have to show up for work.” 

– Pedro Martinez, CEO of Chicago Public Schools

Scott Olson/Staff/Getty Images

Background

The Chicago Teachers Union has been clashing with the city and Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) throughout the pandemic. Last January, they said they’d only return for in-person teaching if they were put at the front of the line for COVID vaccines. The city responded by prioritizing teachers for vaccines at a time when availability for everyone else was limited. 

A few months later, they said they’d go back to remote learning unless the school improved classroom COVID safety, so the city spent millions on air purification systems, N95 masks, and increased COVID testing. 

Now

As the far milder Omicron variant has caused case rates to spike, the union is refusing to teach in-person once again. The union’s 25,000 members held a vote late Tuesday night, and 73% voted for remote learning, saying they felt unsafe being in school, despite the past measures taken by the city. 

On Wednesday morning, hundreds of thousands of families woke up to the news that their kids would be staying home for the foreseeable future. 

City Responds

At the start of the pandemic, city officials, including Mayor Lightfoot, were sympathetic to the teachers. Now, the city, along with parents in the district, appear to be growing tired of their consistent refusal to maintain in-person teaching, despite meeting all of their demands. 

The Union is now claiming their teachers have been locked out of their online accounts by the city, and they’re unable to get in touch with their students. 

Parents React

Because the vote didn’t finish until late Tuesday night, many parents went to bed thinking everything was normal, and woke up to learn that their kids wouldn’t have anywhere to go. 

Parents around the country have soured on remote learning. One poll showed 81% thought schools should no longer be remote. Numerous studies have also shown the negative impacts that remote learning has on students’ mental health, as well as their long-term academic development.

What Next: The CTU union said they’d keep schools closed until at least the 18th. The union said they’d only return once the school district took measures to make them feel safe and the number of COVID cases “substantially subsides.”

Kerem Yucel/KEREM YUCEL/Contributor/AFP via Getty Images

2) Mayo Clinic Fires 700 Employees Over Vaccine Mandate

The Topline: The Mayo Clinic confirmed that it had fired 700 workers who refused to comply with the medical center’s vaccine mandate.

Quote Of The Day: “…if you believe in something strongly… I don’t feel like you should have to cave to keep a job.”

– Jessica Moore-Wright, former 14-year Mayo Clinic employee

Background

Mayo Clinic gave its employees until this past Monday to get a COVID vaccine, and fired 700 workers — around 1% of their employees — who refused.

The Clinic released a statement saying that while they’re “saddened to lose valuable employees,” the move was necessary to keep their patients and workers safe. The medical center also said that if any of the fired workers change their mind and want to get the shot, they can apply to work at Mayo Clinic again. 

Mayo Clinic has already faced strong pushback in the past over its vaccination policy, when 38 local lawmakers signed a letter last month asking the medical center to change its strict rule, threatening to pull state funding. 

Reversals

Mayo Clinic is taking this step at a time when states like Rhode Island are reversing their strict vaccination policies. The state was firing health workers for not getting a COVID vaccine, but is now allowing people who are COVID positive to come to work. 

Last fall, Rhode Island, along with many other states, said all health workers would need to be vaccinated by October 1st in order to continue working, which resulted in hundreds of health care workers being fired because they refused the shot. 

Afterwards, at least one state-run hospital started letting unvaccinated health workers keep working. Around New Year’s Eve, the Rhode Island health department released updated guidance allowing even COVID-positive health care workers to come to work due to the state’s severe shortage of hospital workers. The health department defended the decision, saying COVID-positive workers can help in “crisis situations for staffing.” So far, no hospitals have asked workers diagnosed with COVID to come to work.

Meanwhile, some U.S. troops have sued the Biden administration over the military’s vaccine mandate. This week, a federal judge blocked the Defense Department from punishing 35 Navy sailors who refused to get the shot.

The Daily Wire is fighting Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate in federal court. Join us in this fight by signing our petition to OSHA, telling them that you will not comply with this mandate.

Mary Smyth via Getty Images

3) Study Reveals Fewer Americans Identify As Religious

The Topline: A study released last week showed that fewer Americans identify as religious, with the number of self-identifying Christians falling from 75% to 63% in ten years.

The Numbers

In 2007, Pew found that U.S. Christians outnumbered religious “nones” – people who say they’re agnostic, atheist or nothing in particular – by around five to one. That number is now down to around two to one. 

The research shows that people who are leaving Christianity aren’t transitioning to another religion – they’re going to nothing. The majority of the exodus is coming from America’s dominant religion, Protestantism. While it claimed 51% of U.S. adults in 2011, only 40% describe themselves as some branch of Protestant today.

Catholicism experienced a decline, as well, but it was only 3%. This study didn’t track Mormonism and Judaism, but other recent research has shown them holding fairly steady.

Potential Causes

Historically, research on this topic has shown that economic prosperity tends to equate to secularization. For decades in the West, the wealthiest nations also tended to be the most secular except for the United States. Now, the U.S. is beginning to trend in the same direction as Europe and Scandinavia. 

In the last decade, Americans’ religiosity has been declining more rapidly than in other rich, Western democracies. Many of those nations, however, didn’t have much further to drop. In the United Kingdom, for example, the percentage of adults who attend church on any given Sunday is in the low single digits.

Cultural Effects

Declining religious faith naturally corresponds to a decline in church participation, and church attendance correlates with various forms of civic good

Religious people tend to have higher birth rates, which expands the tax base and provides more workers for future economies. They also smoke and drink less, putting less strain on health systems. Actively religious people also tend to have much higher community engagement, and are more conscientious about voting and volunteering. 

A large percentage of local charity organizations are affiliated with churches or religious denominations. The amount of care provided in a community for those struggling with poverty, addiction, and mental health issues is strongly connected to the outreach of local churches. On an individual level, research shows that people who are active in religious congregations are typically happier.

Sanjin Strukic/Pixsell/MB Media / Contributor/Getty Images

Other Stories We’re Tracking

Novak Djokovic

The world’s #1 Ranked Tennis player Novak Djokovic has been denied entry into Australia after his visa was cancelled. Djokovic arrived in Australia on Wednesday and after an eight hour standoff with officials, was told on Thursday he would be denied entry. His medical exemption from the COVID vaccine, which was granted on Tuesday, was the reason for the standoff. Djokovic tested positive for COVID in June 2020. His lawyers plan on challenging the decision.

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