Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools Reach Agreement to Reopen Schools after Strike

     On the night of Tuesday, January 4, the Chicago Teachers Union voted to walk out and not come to work the next day. Only two days after returning from Christmas break, the Teachers Union decided to walk out because they felt unsafe going to work due to the rise in Omicron COVID cases in Chicago. 

   The union had concerns before winter break about whether COVID precautions would be sufficient after their return. After coming back from break, many teachers did not think such precautions were taken. This caused the vote and the walkout. Many teachers felt unsafe going back to school in person and instead wanted to switch to remote learning. There was a lot of controversy with going back to remote learning because not every family could afford to stay home with their children. Mayor Lori Lightfoot argued that going back to remote learning was how many students’ grades dropped during remote learning last year, especially children who came from less fortunate backgrounds. Many parents felt like the teachers union was getting to decide whether their children got to go to school or not and the change was hard on both children and parents.

     The controversy surrounding the legality of the strike was a major push to getting teachers back in school. The Chicago teachers union is under contract with Chicago Public Schools (CPS), meaning that they are not allowed to strike without facing consequences like not getting paid for the missed days, not being in school, and punishment from the district. However, the union and CPS were able to reach an agreement. The agreement was to have more testing for students and teachers and more contact tracing. More necessities like masks will be given to schools for students. The agreement puts into place new rules about when schools would have to quarantine and that it would only have to be for five days due to the recommendations from the CDC.

        After five days without school, CPS students returned to school with 89 percent of teachers back in school. While neither side is completely happy with the agreement, students are able to continue with in-person learning this spring.