Teachers in Chicago voted not to show up to work Wednesday over COVID fears and only announced the move at 11pm on Tuesday, causing utter chaos for parents.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned that teachers who failed to turn up would be docked pay after the Chicago Teachers Union said 73% of its members endorsed the action.
While the union voted for remote working, there is no such system in place, remote devices have not been handed out, and therefore Chicago’s 350,000 students will not receive tuition today.
One parent slammed the move, saying: ‘Let’s get this straight we are shutting down schools over a cold?’
Public health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady held a news conference to scotch claims that chidden were in danger by being at school.
‘One of the things I’m hearing the most misinformation about is that Chicago hospitals are filling up with children, that many Chicago children are dying of COVID,’ Arwady said.
‘That is being driven by unvaccinated adults. Child COVID hospitalizations remain very rare.
‘Across the whole city, approximately 550,000 children, we are averaging just seven COVID hospitalizations a day right now for children aged zero to 17.’
‘If you’re vaccinated, if you’re child is vaccinated, this is behaving like the flu,’ she assured viewers, ‘And we don’t close school districts, especially for extended periods of time, for the flu.’
Just 400 cases were reported Tuesday morning, with about 70% students and 30% staff.
Lightfoot said: ‘There is no basis in the data, the science or common sense for us to shut an entire system down.
Public health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady insisted that the safety protocols set in place for Chicago Public Schools were sufficient to protect the children and staff
Mayor Lori Lightfoot has continued to struggle to agree with the Chicago Teachers Union
Parents were left furious as they scrambled to find accommodations for their children hours before school was scheduled to begin
‘If we pause, what do we say to those parents who can’t afford to hire somebody to come in and watch their kids, who can’t ship their kids off to some other place, what do we say to those students who are already struggling?
‘We need to lean in to the science and the data and not push that to the side and give in to fear-mongering and hysteria.’
The mayor also said she feared the delayed reopening would stretch on past the January 18 date planned by CTU leaders.
The CTU demanded that students and staff members provided a negative COVID-19 test result before entering buildings on Monday.
The union also wants daily health questionnaires to be reinstated, free masks for all staff and students and wants schools to shift to remote learning if 20% or more of staff is in isolation or quarantine.
The head of Chicago Public Schools, Pedro Martinez, is distributing 200,000 KN95 masks for teachers and staff, requiring indoor mask-wearing in schools and weekly testing is mandatory for unvaccinated staff members and optional for students.
Martinez has bent over backwards to meet the union’s demands.
Chicago Teachers Union president Jesse Sharkey denied the CPS’s request to delay the union’s vote to allow officials to present a revised safety plan
Schools CEO Pedro Martinez said buildings would remain open for administrators and that students would be taken off if dropped off on Wednesday
The mayor said that the CTU President Jason Sharkey denied Martinez’s request to delay the vote in order to allow officials to present an updated safety plan for returning in person.
Sharkey did not respond to DailyMail.com for comment on the on-going situation.
Who is Chicago Teacher’s Union President Jesse Sharkey?
Jesse Sharkey was appointed president of the Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU) on September 5, 2018 after his predecessor became ill.
Before that he worked as a teacher and served as the vice president of the CTU.
He has been described as ‘a leading member of the International Socialist Organization (ISO),’ according to World Socialist Website.
Sharkey was also found to have attended a Midwest Marxism Conference nearly a decade ago.
The CTU president is married to Julie Fain, the daughter of multimillionaire Richard Fain, who just this week stepped down as CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Julie Fain previously worked as an associate editor of In These Times, a socialist magazine and now works with radical leftist publisher Haymarket Books, according to her LinkedIn.
The couple share two children: a sophomore and a recent graduate from Chicago Public Schools.
In 2019, the CTU faced harsh criticism when for members of the delegation used the group’s name to fundraise and attend a trip to Venezuela.
During the trip, they meet with officials of Nicolás Maduro’s administration, criticized US sanctions on the Cuba-backed regime and praised its socialism.
When asked for a comment on the controversial trip Sharkey said: ‘Members go all kinds of places in the summer. This was neither an official trip nor something that was funded by the union. This is a group of people who are members of the CTU who decided to go to Venezuela.’
Sharkey did not reply to DailyMail.com for a comment.
‘The worst thing we can do is to shut the entire system down. What we need to be focused on is working together,’ she said.
‘What I’d love to see CTU do is not force an illegal work stoppage. What I’d love to see them do is work hand-in-glove with us to get kids and their families vaccinated.’
He has proposed that a school would move to virtual instruction if at least 40% of its classroom teachers are absent for two consecutive days due to COVID and schools would resume in-person instruction after five to 10 school days .
He is also restoring health screeners and temperature checks to allow entry into buildings.
However, these measures were insufficient for the teachers’ union and they voted to stay at home.
‘This decision was made with a heavy heart and a singular focus on student and community safety,’ the union said in a statement.
However, district officials blamed the union for the late cancellation, saying despite safety measures, including a high teacher vaccination rate, ‘our teachers are not willing to report to work.’
‘We are deeply concerned about this decision but even more concerned about its impact on the health, safety, and well-being of our students and families,’ the district said in a statement.
The status of instruction for the rest of the week remained in limbo, while district leaders said a plan to ‘continue student learning’ would come later Wednesday.
A fierce battle took place last January over similar issues causing a bumpy start to the district’s return to in-person instruction after first going remote in March 2020.
Martinez said buildings on Wednesday would remain open for administrators, staff and ‘essential services,’ but later clarified that students would be taken care of if dropped off despite classes being cancelled for the day.
District officials said schools would offer food service from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and COVID-19 testing would continue as scheduled, but afterschool activities would be canceled. The district also provided a list of city sites with available daycare.
The district said roughly 82 percent of its roughly 21,600 teachers reported to work Monday, which was lower than usual, but that classes were covered by substitute teachers and other staff.
District officials said student attendance for the week was not yet available.
Roughly 100,000 students and 91 percent of its more than 47,000 staff in the district are vaccinated, according to the district.