The Chicago Teachers Union wants a goal of vaccinating students.


The Chicago Teachers Union wants school district officials to agree to help immunize the majority of eligible students and secure telecommuting options for some teachers before schools reopen this fall.

In the proposal released on Tuesday, the district would work with city health officials to immunize 80 percent of eligible students by October 1 through a mix of school-based clinics and coordination of home immunization visits.

The union said it handed the document, dated July 5, to interim CEO José Torres and mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday evening.

The union’s fall reopening proposal also calls for more central office-funded mental health positions, a 10% increase in special education and arts teachers, and a rent assistance program for families facing challenges. unstable housing.

“CPS and CTU agree to return to school in person five days a week next year, and we look forward to considering CTU’s proposal at the bargaining table,” the district said in a statement. when asked to comment on CTU requests.

Under the union’s proposal, Chicago public schools would extend their current rules until the fall of requiring indoor masks, security checks before entering buildings, and distancing measures. social set by the state health department and school board, which currently stay at six feet. District officials and union leaders were due to discuss the demands Tuesday afternoon, according to the union.

The fall proposal once again puts district officials and union leaders in murky territory over whether Chicago needs to come to a separate deal to reopen schools in the COVID-19 era. Previous efforts to reopen schools this fall and winter without the union’s full cooperation have led to a tense standoff and months of delays.

This time, however, the state’s school board said it will limit distance learning eligibility to medically fragile students. With the state ordinance likely on the way, it’s unclear whether the school district should seek a new deal with the union to fully reopen schools in the fall.

Janice Jackson, who completed her tenure as district CEO last week, said it was important to reach an agreement with the union for a smooth reopening, but suggested the district was not legally bound. to do.

Earlier this month, Los Angeles Unified officials and union leaders accepted a cover letter for the fall reopening that included continued mask wear, safety filters and COVID-19 testing in classes when schools reopen this fall.

District superintendents across Illinois have pressured the state school board to issue updated guidelines on masking, social distancing, and other logistics as they strive to draw up plans for reopening in the fall and to negotiate with teachers. Social distancing – and revising the rules down to three feet – has been of particular concern, with district leaders arguing that they cannot fully reopen schools if social distancing guidelines are not revised.

Carmen Ayala, the state school’s superintendent, said Illinois was awaiting recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state’s public health department and that more updated rules should be passed.

With conflicting guidelines emerging across the country on masking and vaccination policies, the American Federation of Teachers has asked the CDC for more national guidelines on vaccination, masking, and the social distancing protocol for schools.

In its proposal, the Chicago Teachers Union said it was seeking an agreement until January 2022 that would go beyond such logistics.

The union wants the district to grant permission to work from home until January to all employees at higher COVID risk who are not vaccinated for medical or religious reasons. He also wants all other unvaccinated employees to still be eligible for unpaid leave with full benefits – proposals that could potentially create staffing issues for the district. Teachers with teleworking accommodation would be hired to staff the district’s centralized “virtual academy” for medically fragile students, the proposal suggests.

The union also wants the district to pay for an additional counselor, social worker, nurse, restorative justice coordinator and librarian on each campus. In the union’s 2019 contract, the district agreed to staff each school with a social worker and a nurse, but these positions were to be phased in over several years. Librarians are generally funded at the school level, not from the central budget.

The union is also calling on the district to provide rent assistance to families facing housing instability and to meet twice a month with city officials to help connect some students to safer accommodation.

The proposal also lists several demands regarding ventilation, including the use of some federal emergency funds for structural improvements to school buildings and targets for the number of fresh air changes per hour that filtration units must record. .

The union is also calling on the district to immediately reverse the layoffs of 269 teachers in June.

Parents have appeared at recent Chicago school board meetings to speak out in favor of quickly reaching a deal with the union to create stability for students and families ahead of the school year. Interim CEO Jose Torres has pledged to bring students back to classrooms in person full time this fall.

Maia Spoto contributed reporting.

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