Chicago's COVID-19 fight with teachers hangs over a 2nd week

Chicago Teachers
Posted at 12:58 PM, Jan 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-09 15:58:18-05

CHICAGO (AP) — Talks between Chicago school leaders and the teachers' union resume Sunday amid a standoff over remote learning and other COVID-19 safety measures.

The situation looms over the start of a second week of school after three days of canceled classes in the nation’s third-largest district.

Chicago schools face the same pandemic issues as others nationwide, with a growing number of districts reverting to remote learning as infections explode during the omicron-fueled surge and sideline staff members.

But the situation in union-friendly Chicago has been amplified in a labor dispute that’s familiar to families in the mostly low-income Black and Latino district who’ve seen several similar disruptions in the last few years.

The district said late Saturday it will allow more incentives for substitute teachers, provide KN95 masks for all teachers and students, and that Illinois will provide about 350,000 antigen tests.

But both sides remained far apart on key issues including COVID-19 metrics that will lead to individual school closures and compensation.

The district said it won’t pay teachers failing to report to schools, even if they tried to log into remote teaching systems. The union doesn’t want any of its roughly 25,000 members to be disciplined or lose pay.