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Chicago schools cancel classes over union’s COVID demands


Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks with a student at William H. Brown Elementary School in February 2020, shortly after the district resumed in-person learning. Associated Press/Photo by Shafkat Anowar

Chicago schools cancel classes over union’s COVID demands

Roughly 350,000 students in the nation’s third-largest school system stayed home from school on Wednesday, unsure whether they will return this week. The Chicago Teachers Union voted Tuesday night to move classes online because of rising COVID-19 cases and complaints of inadequate health safety measures. District leaders called the move a “walkout” and opted to cancel classes instead, placing teachers on unpaid leave unless they reported to their school buildings.

What is the disagreement? The union, with support from 73 percent of its 25,000 members, wants increased COVID-19 protections such as issuing N95 masks to teachers and having lower thresholds for moving classes online. The city has reported a seven-day rolling average of 4,775 new infections per day, its highest during the pandemic. But the data show Chicago is seeing fewer than half the number of COVID-19 deaths per day than it had during coronavirus waves in May and December of 2020. Chicago Health Commissioner Allison Arwady announced in a Tuesday news conference the city averages seven hospitalizations for children per day. Mayor Lori Lightfoot accused teachers of “politicizing the pandemic” and pushed to reopen schools.

Dig Deeper: Read Lauren Dunn’s report in Schooled on education clashes throughout the year.


Mary Muncy

Mary Muncy is a graduate of World Journalism Institute and a WORLD Digital intern.

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