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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned that she will take action against teachers who refuse to show up to school today after a union voted against in-person learning.
The mayor was quick to respond after Tuesday’s vote, in which 73% of the Chicago Teachers Union said they wanted to go back to remote classes until the current spike in COVID-19 cases “substantially subsides.” The vote resulted in classes being canceled on Wednesday. In response, Lightfoot said teachers who do not show up at school Wednesday will lose pay, the Chicago Tribune reported.
According to the union, Lightfoot is doing more than just withholding pay.
“Mayor Lightfoot has started locking Chicago public school teachers and staff out of their Google Classrooms,” the union tweeted early Wednesday morning, hours after it had said “all members will log in remotely to work.”
The union vote took place a day after students had returned from winter break. Lightfoot addressed the matter in a Twitter thread Tuesday night in which she said she wanted to “speak directly to the parents” who were concerned about the situation.
“I want to assure you that I am doing everything in my power to keep our students in school, where they belong, learning,” Lightfoot said.
The mayor said she is “committed” to continuing talks with the union “and negotiating a fair agreement” but that she is against “unilateral action to shut down the entire district, depriving hundreds of thousands of students of the safe, in-person schooling environment they need.”
Lightfoot stressed the need to follow the guidance of experts, such as those at the CDC and Chicago Department of Public Health, and keep schools open while utilizing “a robust set of mitigation tactics” to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m urging teachers. Show up to your schools. Your kids need you,” Lightfoot said.
The union also addressed parents on Twitter, saying they too want to do what is best for students.
“To be clear: Educators of this city want to be in buildings with their students. We believe that classrooms are where our children should be. But as the results tonight show, Mayor Lightfoot and her CPS team have yet to provide safety for the overwhelming majority of schools,” the union tweeted.
The union said it will not change its position until COVID-19 case numbers go down or Lightfoot’s side “signs an agreement establishing conditions for return that are voted on and approved by the the CTU House of Delegates.”