CTU to announce teacher vote on reopening plan early Wednesday as CPS lifts some lockouts

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CTU members may refuse to work in-person if an agreement is not reached with CPS.
Chicago Teachers Union members and their supporters march and protest in Pilsen after a press conference outside Joseph Jungman Elementary School to call for “safety, equity and trust in any school reopening plan” on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday morning, Jan. 18, 2021. | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

On Tuesday, the school district gave some staffers the opportunity to sign up for vaccinations and reinstated teachers that were previously locked out of their virtual classrooms.

As the Chicago Teachers Union prepares to announce the results of a vote by its 25,000 members on whether to approve Chicago Public Schools’ latest reopening terms, the district on Tuesday signaled that it’s looking past the ongoing labor dispute by giving some staffers the opportunity to sign up for vaccinations and reinstating teachers that were previously locked out of their virtual classrooms.

The voting is expected to close out just before midnight. Shortly thereafter, the union is expected to certify the results and inform members before making them public, CTU spokeswoman Chris Geovanis said.

Geovanis said the union planned to promptly announce the results to allow members to either prepare for a return to the classroom or a potential strike. As part of the reopening plan, in-person classes for pre-kindergarten special education cluster programs would resume Thursday. Elementary teachers would return starting later this month and students would return starting in March.

“We’re trying to think ahead for what members are going to need,” Geovanis said.

Meanwhile, the district already started moving forward with one aspect of the tentative deal, which the union’s House of Delegates voted to send to the full rank and file for a vote.

Under the plan, CPS must offer vaccinations to 2,000 employees who are either expected back in schools this week or who live with someone considered “medically vulnerable” that haven’t received an accommodation from the district. Some employees have received emails allowing them to sign up to be vaccinated, Geovanis confirmed.

CPS also reinstated the pre-kindergarten and special education teachers who were previously locked out of the district’s e-learning platform last month for failing to show up for in-person classes, spokeswoman Emily Bolton confirmed.

Though Geovanis said the move was “a good sign,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey on Sunday advised union members to prepare to be “locked out” and urged them to get ready to strike for the second time in 15 months if the district’s proposal is shot down. CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said a new strike could last as least as long as the last one in 2019 when 11 days of classes were canceled.

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February 9, 2021 at 07:25PM

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