CTU stages protest against CPS reopening plan as Lane sees increase in teacher absences


Finley Williams

A CTU member directs a car caravan outside the union’s Union Park headquarters on Aug. 3, 2020, at an earlier protest of CPS’ reopening plan.

By Finley Williams, Editor-in-Chief

In a district-wide protest against CPS’ school reopening plan and its practice of barring teachers who choose not to report in person from using Google Classroom, members of the Chicago Teachers Union organized a car caravan and mass absence action on Jan. 15. Though the majority of Lane’s teachers are unaffected by this wave of reopening, which focuses on elementary and special education students, at least enough teachers were absent that assistant principals and Principal Tennison had to take attendance in classes.

While general education high schoolers have no timeline to return, students who are in the cluster program had the option to return to school Jan. 11. According to data from CPS, of the 291 students enrolled in the Lane cluster program, 96 students, or 33%, said they would return to school. 124 opted to learn at home, while 71 did not respond to the survey.

Pre-K students also had the chance to return Jan. 11, and kindergarten through eighth grade students will return to the building Feb. 1. This does not  include academic centers.

Assistant Principal Ms. Thompson told The Warrior that she cannot give a concrete number of absent teachers, but that the number was higher than last Friday and the Friday before winter break. It is unclear how many of these teachers participated in the protest.

According to the union, “Students and parents want their teachers back — online, teaching their children remotely safely as they have been for months, until CPS bargains with the CTU on a safe reopening plan for school communities.”

But CPS maintains that in-person schooling is safe for students and teachers alike.

“Under CDPH’s watchful eye, in-person instruction is allowable under current public health conditions,” according to CPS. “During a global pandemic, risk exists for any public gathering. However, to mitigate these risks, the district has developed a comprehensive plan that includes health and safety policies and procedures aligned to local, state, and federal guidance.”