Statement from Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson (1/30)
30 January 2021
CHICAGO - Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson today issued the following statement regarding negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU):
“For the first time since CPS and CTU began meeting in June, after over 70 meetings, we have reached tentative agreements on four of several outstanding issues, which is an important step toward reaching an overarching agreement that will ensure students are able to receive the high quality education they deserve. Those four key areas include: health and safety protocols, ventilation, contact tracing, and health and safety committees. The commitments outlined in these four agreements align with the latest public health guidance, and we are encouraged by the progress that we have made. There is still significant work that needs to be done on the remaining several open issues. We must make additional, meaningful progress today and tomorrow as time is running out. Our teams remain at the bargaining table with the goal of reaching a sensible agreement that allows Chicago’s students and teachers to safely return to the classroom, and we will keep families updated as the work continues through the weekend.”
CPS and CTU leadership reached tentative agreements on four key elements of an overall agreement that remains in negotiation. These include:
Health and Safety Protocols: The health and safety of everyone in our schools is priority number one, and we have worked with the Chicago Department of Public Health to ensure our plan meets and exceeds the recommendations for safely operating during the pandemic. Key mitigations include health screenings and temperature checks, access to hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, face coverings and PPE, regular cleaning and disinfection protocols, and social distancing.
Ventilation: In addition to the Centers for Disease Control’s primary recommendations for preventing the spread of COVID-19, the district has undertaken an extensive effort to ensure all classrooms used this year are properly ventilated. Independent, state certified environmental specialists have tested every school’s indoor air quality, and engineers have done ventilation checks in all classrooms. To provide an additional layer of protection, the district has invested $8.5 million in HEPA air purifiers for all classrooms and office spaces. Families can view the results of their school’s air quality assessments at cps.edu/airquality.
Contact Tracing: To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the district has established a 10-person contact tracing team, which investigates all known cases of COVID in district schools. Working in close coordination with the Chicago Department of Public Health, the district’s contact tracing team notifies all close contacts and ensures that proper notifications are sent to each school community in a timely manner.
Health and Safety Committees: To ensure union members and other school staff have a role to play in promoting safe learning environments, the district will establish district- and school-level health and safety committees charged with ensuring safety and mitigation measures are implemented appropriately and consistently.
Chicago Public Schools serves 341,000 students in 638 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.