Jan 6, 2022 - COVID

Chicago Public Schools cancel Thursday classes

Data: IDPH; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

Chicago Public Schools officials have canceled classes for a second day as they continue negotiating with members of the Chicago Teachers Union.

  • CPS CEO Pedro Martinez said at a Wednesday evening press conference he hopes teachers will return to school buildings Friday and that they will not be paid until then.

Driving the news: Mayor Lori Lightfoot said "an unfair labor practices complaint has been filed" against the CTU for their work action to suspend in-person instruction, which CPS considers "an illegal work stoppage."

State of play: Lightfoot again stressed that "schools are the safest place for children," reinforcing her statements Tuesday that "schools are not a significant source of COVID spread."

Yes, but: The latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health(IDPH) shows schools as the No. 1 potential source of infection in every region in the state except Chicago, which has not released COVID-19 exposure data.

  • In suburban Cook County, schools represent more than 60% of all potential exposure sites mentioned during contact tracing.
  • The IDPH notes these are "locations where COVID-19 exposure may have occurred, not…definitive exposure or outbreak locations."
  • But if the most commonly mentioned potential source in the rest of the state doesn't represent a "significant source," then what does?

What they're saying: Chicago Health Department spokesman Andrew Buchanan, who seemed to be surprised by the data, deferred to health commissioner Allison Arwady’s comments that schools are not a source of significant spread when asked for comment.

  • Buchanan did not respond to requests for Chicago's exposure data.

Meanwhile, the CTU says CPS is "locking out" teachers from remote instruction.

The other side: Lightfoot said Tuesday CPS can't authorize remote learning without an emergency action from the Governor or the Department of Health.

Reality check: According to the Illinois State Board of Education, the governor has nothing to do with allowing remote teaching.

  • An "adaptive pause" (aka remote teaching) would require consultation with the Chicago Department of Public Health, which is not on board with the CTU action.

What's next: Negotiations over school safety measures continue. It's unclear what will happen after Friday.


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