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Chicago Teachers Union once again considers locking down schools, floats 'city-wide work stoppage'

Max Herman/NurPhoto via Getty Images

With the rise of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, the Chicago Teachers Union is once again considering shutting down in-person education in the city and returning strictly to remote classes.

What are the details?

In a survey issued this week titled "Possible Actions for Safety January 2022," the union asked its 25,000 rank-and-file members if they would support initiating a temporary return to distance learning if cases continued to spike, WFLD-TV reported.

"If COVID continues to dangerously accelerate or should staffing levels in our schools drop to unsafe levels, would you support a district-wide pause and temporary shift to remote learning?" the questionnaire asked.

"Cases of the new omicron variant are spiking in Chicago and around the country. It is imperative that we return from our winter break with a plan to ensure school communities’ and our own safety," the survey said. "Please answer the following very short survey to help guide the CTU’s response to CPS’s inadequate pandemic response."

What else?

Elsewhere in the survey, the nation's third-largest teachers union probed members about how far they would be willing to go to demand that Chicago Public Schools enhance their safety measures.

"What actions would you participate in to force CPS to improve its COVID safety measures?" the union asked teachers, listing five different action-step options for members to check off, ranging from minor to major.

Some of the minor action steps included "conven[ing] a meeting of the school safety committee," handing out flyers to parents, and launching an event at school such as a "neighborhood car caravan."

Then the union suggested "participat[ing] in a city-wide action like a car caravan or an outdoor rally" and even floated "participat[ing] in a city-wide work stoppage" to pressure the school district.

What's the background?

It's not the first time the union has demanded an end to in-person learning since the start of the pandemic.

In January 2021, the union ordered its teachers not to return to classrooms amid health and safety issues, and threatened to initiate an illegal strike if any of the absent teachers were disciplined. Some members strangely performed an interpretive dance in protest of the district's return to school policy.

A deal was eventually struck between the district and the union in February that allowed children to return to Chicago classrooms. But it didn't mark an end to the union's protesting. Many feared it would only be a matter of time until the union renewed its calls for school closures.

Now it appears Chicago Public Schools is prepared to kowtow to the union's activism once again. Seeing the writing on the wall, the district purchased 100,000 laptops last week in preparation for a renewed shutdown.

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