On Wednesday, roughly 290,000 children in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) could not go to school after the Chicago Teachers Union voted to return to remote learning until January 18 or the number of coronavirus cases plummet to a certain level. One teacher who has worked at the Benito Juarez Community Academy, which is part of the Chicago Public Schools system, commented on Facebook, “I feel no pain. They can cancel school until June and I’ll be fine. Been training for this moment all my life,” as The Washington Free Beacon reported.
“Chicago teachers bragged on Facebook about potentially being eligible to receive reimbursements for sick days they scheduled for Wednesday, which they no longer need to take because of the closing,” The Beacon noted, with one fourth-grade teacher suggesting that the district should “run me back my sick days.”
In January 2021, the Chicago Teachers’ Union released a video showing six of their members who were dance teachers performing an interpretative dance to express their feelings about refusing to return to work unless they felt “safe.”
The union tweeted the video, titled, “The Moment We’re Safe,” with the caption, “Six of our rank-and-file dance teachers come together to use their art form as a voice to express their desire to feel safe amidst CPS’ teacher return policy. They stand in solidarity with all educators at risk, because no one should have to choose between life and livelihood.”
A voice in the video intoned, “I will survive without you,” followed by another voice intoning, “Make it make sense… Safety is essential… Keep our students and our teachers safe… Safe… It’s our livelihood versus our lives… Safe… In this moment, be safe… Safe… Our children deserve to be safe… We want to be safe… Safe… We want to feel safe… Safe return or no return.”
Six of our rank-and-file dance teachers come together to use their art form as a voice to express their desire to feel safe amidst CPS' teacher return policy. They stand in solidarity with all educators at risk, because no one should have to choose between life and livelihood. pic.twitter.com/gajXH9PReE
— ChicagoTeachersUnion (@CTULocal1) January 23, 2021
The Daily Wire reported at the time that the CTU had voted not to return to work, defying an order from the Chicago Public Schools administration:
Chicago’s teacher’s union voted on Sunday to defy Chicago Public Schools administration and refuse to return to in-person teaching even though pupils are due back in classrooms on February 1st.
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has been locked in a power struggle with the union for some time, with teachers and union brass insisting that it is not safe for teachers to return to classrooms, even though Chicago’s private schools have been in-person for months. At one point, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) suggested that any plan to return to in-classroom teaching would be both racist and sexist.
As The Daily Wire reported last week, some Chicago students — mostly preschoolers and those students with moderate to severe special needs — returned to empty classrooms, with teachers calling in sick to resist CPS’s demands that they return to classrooms. The union issued a list of demands to CPS instead, pledging to remain in “virtual” classrooms until “all school employees have had the opportunity to get vaccinated, or until the city’s positivity rate falls to 3 percent and its rate of new cases falls below 400 per day.”
In March 2021, the president of the Chicago Teachers Union instructed his members to omit mentioning that they had received the vaccine for COVID-19 if “it could negatively impact any accommodations you have been granted or requested.”
Jesse Sharkey stated, “The union is not going to agree that CPS can violate the plain language of our MOA. So, for now, the union does not have an agreement with CPS on this issue and we do not believe they can mandate disclosure until we complete negotiations. We recommend CTU members wait to complete the disclosure survey if you believe it could negatively impact any accommodations you have been granted or requested.”