Public schools in Chicago were closed amid a dispute with the teachers’ union over distance education, which once again paid off for President Joe Biden’s effort to keep students in class despite increasing Covid-19 cases.
Nearly three-quarters of the more than 25,000 public school educators represented by the Chicago Teachers Union voted against personal education, citing safety issues as Covid-19 cases in the city increased and across the usa.
“Right now, going to schools is putting us at risk, putting our students and families at risk of contracting the coronavirus,” said union president Jesse Sharkey. “We were failed by the mayor, we were failed by the public health office, and. . . the only thing we can control is whether we enter the buildings. ”
In response, the Chicago Public Schools District canceled classes for the day and told parents there would be no personal learning or distance learning on Wednesday.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the union, one of the most powerful teachers in the country, have been fighting for months over safety protocols in the city’s schools related to testing, vaccination and cleaning.
Lightfoot said on Twitter that while the district will continue to negotiate with the union, “what we cannot accept is unilateral action to close the entire district, depriving hundreds of thousands of students of the safe, personalized school environment they need. “.
The union said on Wednesday morning that the mayor had “excluded” teachers when they could not report to the district’s online classrooms. The mayor’s press secretary did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Some school districts have returned to distance education as Omicron fuels a spate of Covid-19s, disrupting efforts to reopen travel, businesses and schools after months of pandemic restrictions.
School districts in Atlanta, Detroit and several other regions have shifted to online learning due to the boom in Covid cases, which exceeded 1 million on Monday. The U.S. registers an average of nearly 470,000 new cases per day, according to Financial Times data.
Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the U.S. saw daily cases increase by about 98 percent this week compared to the previous one.
Hospitalizations and deaths are also on the rise, albeit at a slower pace – the seven-day average of hospital admissions is about 14,800 a day, about 63 percent higher than the previous week, she said, while the seven-day average of daily deaths were about 1,200 a day, 5 percent higher than the previous week.
At a briefing on Wednesday, White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients stressed the importance of keeping schools open. Although he did not specifically quote the public schools in Chicago, he said Biden’s ‘clear’ view is that children should be in classrooms.
“Parents want schools open, and experts are clear that personal learning is best for children’s physical and mental health, and for their education,” Zients said.
He said the Biden administration had allocated $ 130 billion in federal funding to schools to implement pandemic “prevention measures”, such as improved ventilation systems, and another $ 10 billion to pay for Covid-19 testing in schools.
The Biden administration is stepping up its vaccination campaign to try to persuade the 38 percent of unvaccinated Americans to get a sting, and is expanding its booster program, including authorizing third-degree stabbings for 12- to 15-year-olds.
However, teachers’ unions say the introduction of security measures and testing infrastructure across the country remains unclear. “If you want to get us back to schools faster, provide tests,” said Sharkey, president of CTU.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, blamed Chicago’s city authorities for failing to implement the necessary safety measures needed to keep schools open.
She called on all sides to stand together in the dispute to ensure a safe reopening of schools. “Omicron is the enemy, not each other.”