New York Mayor Eric Adams delved into Chicago in a public address Thursday, calling out the city’s handling of negotiations between officials and the teachers’ union over updated COVID-19 safety protocols in the schools.
“It’s not Chicago, it’s New York, where we connect with each other because we’re both emotionally intelligent and we can work through this. We can get through this crisis and we’ll find the right way out. ‘educating our children in a very safe environment,’ Adams said in his remarks.
Adams plans to allow New York City schools to return to some form of virtual instruction amid a surge in coronavirus cases, a reversal of his promise a week ago to keep children in school.
The mayor of New York told a press conference on Thursday that he still believes the safest place for children is in school, “but we have to be honest that there are a significant number children, for some reason the parents don’t bring them to school.”
After four days of missed instruction, Chicago Public Schools and the teachers union concluded negotiations this week, with the House of Delegates voting to suspend the union’s remote work action.
As a result, teachers returned to class on Tuesday and students resumed in-person learning on Wednesday. However, some students said the CPS and teachers’ union had overlooked their concerns.
A letter detailing the latest COVID safety protocols was sent to CPS families on Thursday, which included information on the newly agreed-upon KN95 masks available to students and city staff.
“Our goal throughout this process was both to get our students back to in-person learning as quickly as possible and to avoid work disruptions for the remainder of the school year,” the mayor said. Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, at a press conference Monday.
Chicago Teachers’ Union President Jesse Sharkey called the negotiations ‘unpleasant’ and said that while the deal was less than perfect, the union should be proud of the deal reached with city officials .
“It’s not a perfect deal, but it’s something we can keep a cool head on,” he told a news conference on Monday.
On Monday evening, CTU announced that its distance learning movement would be put on hold due to the deal, with a vote by rank-and-file union members on the proposed deal expected this week.
CPS CEO Pedro Martinez said the new agreement comes with new measures to determine when a class or school should transition to remote learning, based on student absences or staffing issues.
The city has also added new expanded testing, with a big boost from the state, and there will also be additional funding for new PPE and other materials for schools, as well as new research proposals from the contacts, according to Lightfoot.
Classes have been canceled for more than 300,000 CPS students for four school days after teachers voted to switch to remote learning last week in defiance of Lightfoot’s threats that educators would make a “shutdown illegal work” by doing so.
Sharkey defended the decision to vote to switch to remote learning, saying the union had raised numerous concerns with CPS over the summer and fall, to no avail.
“It became clear to us that Ed’s board didn’t want to negotiate with us on a lot of the key security features that we felt we needed,” Sharkey said.
Sharkey said it was a gradual process to see cases increase, as well as the city’s reluctance to install more robust contact tracing and testing protocols that led to discussions of a shift to learning. from a distance.
“The omicron variant appeared at the end of November. It came quickly and it happened to a school system that didn’t have the confidence or the mitigations or the operations in place to deal with it properly,” he said.
About 73% of teachers had voted in favor of moving to remote learning, but some teachers who did not support the move continued to report back to schools.
City officials had argued that schools were safe with protocols in place. School leaders have touted a $100million safety plan, including air purifiers in every classroom. Around 91% of staff are vaccinated and masks are mandatory indoors.
Some Chicago public school students plan to walk out of class on Friday in a bid to protest the return to classrooms, heading downtown to CPS headquarters.
“We demand CPS funds and practice, for example, all types of self-help projects – such as coat, food and resource drives. Full CTA funding for all students, EBT card top-ups” , said a student.
Organized by Chi-RADS, the Chicago Public School Radical Youth Alliance, students from at least 30 schools are scheduled to head out at 12:30 p.m. Friday.
Several groups have planned smaller rallies outside individual schools before heading to CPS headquarters at 42 W. Madison, where a larger rally is scheduled for 1:45 p.m.
“It won’t just be the inner city kids,” said a member of Chi-RADS. “Parents said they would show up and then outside support would too.”
As part of Chi-RADS’ comprehensive list of demands, students ask CPS to provide each student with a personal laptop computer, personal tutors outside of class hours, and full funding for arts programs, among other requirements.