Preschool and special education cluster teachers and staff were expected to begin in-person teaching Jan. 11.
By Cindy Hernandez Jan 4, 2021, 9:55am CST
Some Chicago Public Schools teachers chose to stay home and continue teaching remotely despite being expected to return to school Monday.
The decision came after several months of campaigning by the Chicago Teachers Union to put CPS’ reopening plan on hold.
Preschool and special education cluster teachers and staff were to return to the classroom Monday and begin in-person teaching Jan. 11.
Linda Perales, a kindergarten to second grade cluster teacher at Corkery Elementary School, said she decided to continue teaching remotely because CPS’ reopening plan guidelines won’t allow her students to be taught properly.
“We know that K-2 cluster students can’t wear a face mask all day, they cannot social distance and that increases the transmission of COVID-19,” Perales said in a news conference Monday. “They will have to wear a face mask all day. Teachers will have to wear a face mask all day, and that is so important to note because it’s going to make it impossible to teach letter sounds and other things like that.”
Perales and other teachers said they are concerned that returning to in-person learning will affect low-income students by increasing the risk of transmission and bringing the coronavirus back to their communities, which have already been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
On Sunday, CPS chief Janice Jackson argued in a letter that turning to in-person learning will only help Black and Latino students who “have fallen behind” in remote learning, despite many choosing to continue learning from home.
Lori Torres, a teacher in Logan Square, said CPS has not taken equity into consideration and is expecting teachers to teach students in-person and remotely without having extra support.
“Pushing teachers and students into buildings will weaken our remote learning plans, not strengthen them,” Torres said Monday. “Teachers are expected to be two people, managing kids in front of them and managing kids on the screen. Aside from being safe, the decisions the district have made tell us that we still can’t trust that what they put into place have us in mind.”
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