All About the Kids — Chicago Teachers Prepare To Strike Over Return to Classroom

Fire them all.

Chicago teachers are preparing to strike over what they say are unsafe working conditions caused by a spike in coronavirus cases.

The Chicago Teachers Union has scheduled a Tuesday vote to determine whether its 25,000 members will refuse to return to the classroom, WBEZ reported. On Sunday, more than 6,000 union members at a virtual town hall said they would not feel safe resuming classroom instruction following winter break. Chicago schools were set to reopen Monday, though some schools have already moved to remote learning without district approval.

Last week, the union called for two weeks of remote learning unless all students and district staff provided a negative COVID-19 test before returning to school. The district distributed 150,000 at-home tests for students to take over the break and mail in by Dec. 28. This weekend, the district pushed the mail-in deadline to Jan. 6, following reports that tests were piling up in FedEx drop boxes.

The Chicago Teachers Union has repeatedly bucked efforts to resume in-person learning. Last January, the union thwarted Chicago Public Schools’ plan to reopen schools, even though studies found viral spread in school settings to be “extremely rare.” Many teachers who followed the union’s decision to switch to virtual learning were declared absent without official leave and didn’t receive pay.

Last year, the union claimed that the “push to reopen schools is rooted in sexism, racism, and misogyny.” But studies have shown that black and Latino students have been disproportionately harmed by school closures.

Chicago Public Schools maintains the schools are safe for in-person learning and the strike would put students at “increased health risk.”