Hallway Headlines: January 2022

Nathan Yuan, News Editor

Chicago teachers union walkout resolved, hundreds of students walk out and rally outside of CPS headquarters

CHICAGOChicago Teachers Union’s house delegation voted to suspend a planned walkout after an agreement was reached with the school district regarding safety protocols. 

The agreement doesn’t contain a threshold for district-wide school closures or an opt-out COVID-19 testing program, but the district did increase random testing to at least 10% of all students, and would offer all teachers the opportunity to take a COVID-19 test. It also contains a provision for individual school closures if 30% or more of teachers are quarantined for two or more consecutive days and if substitutes cannot get the absence rate to below 25%. Individual schools would also close if 40% of students were in quarantine.

This agreement comes after CPS canceled five of their first seven days of school after a walkout staged by the Chicago Teachers Union. The walkout came after the union voted to stop in-person teaching on Jan. 4, citing a surge in COVID-19 cases. 

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the Chicago Teachers Union walkout “illegal.”

“What the Chicago Teachers Union did was an illegal walk-out. They abandoned their posts and they abandoned kids and their families,” Lightfoot told moderator Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The mayor then explained why in-person learning is safe for students.

“We know that the safest place for kids to be is in-person learning in schools,” Lightfoot said. “And we’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars to make our schools safe. They are safe. We’ve got the data to demonstrate that.”

CTU President Jesse Sharkey said that week showed CPS officials’ “callous disregard” for school safety.

Hundreds of also students walked out of school on Jan. 14, and some rallied outside of CPS headquarters for remote learning and better COVID-19 safety protocols. 

The walkout was organized by Chi-RADS, CPS’ Radical Youth Alliance, representing queer, black and brown CPS high school students which released a document urging Chicago Public School leaders to address topics ranging from safety precautions to pandemic-related learning support and resources not directly related to the pandemic, such as one full time therapist/psychologist for every 30 students.

Students outside CPS headquarters also chanted slogans against Mayor Lori Lightfoot such as “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Lori Lightfoot’s got to go.”