CHICAGO — The Chicago Teachers Union has voted to approve a plan to reopen high schools starting Monday, the union said Sunday.
The union tweeted Sunday that “The CTU Rules & Elections Committee has certified the ballot results of the high school addendum to our reopening agreement with CPS. Members voted 83% in favor of ratification.
“The addendum is now a ratified agreement between our union and the district.”
The vote to reopen public high schools to students for the first time since they were closed last year due to the pandemic was expected, after union President Jesse Sharkey said the deal was approved “overwhelmingly” by CTU’s House of Delegates late Thursday.
The agreement is a relief to Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools officials, who were hoping to avoid the kind of protracted brinkmanship in negotiations with union officials that characterized the run-up to the reopening of CPS grade schools earlier this year.
Roughly 36% of high school students had indicated they want to return to buildings during survey results CPS released in late March. Among those grades, 62% of white students opted in, compared with 54% of multiracial students, 36% of Black students, 29% of Asian students and 28% of Hispanic and Latino students.
One big win for the union in the proposed plan was the agreement to aid vaccine access for CPS students 16 and older and their families. Priority would be based on ZIP code, and access would be based on vaccine availability, with CPS providing students and families with codes for vaccine registration and blocks of appointments being reserved for them.
Under the proposal’s terms, any plan to expand a school’s attendance model — which spells out the number of days students will attend classes in person and is based on a school building’s capacity to do so safely — would first require a review from the union through the districtwide safety committee.
The proposal would allow high school principals or supervisors to grant teachers or clinicians the option to work remotely on a given day of the week if their work or instructional environment is not “safe or conducive to instruction” and if they have no in-person students that day.
The districtwide safety committee also would have the ability to review approvals for a high school teacher’s or clinician’s remote work.
Since preschool, elementary and special education students started returning under an agreement with the CTU in February, fewer than a quarter of eligible students have attended class in person at least once, according to data CPS released last month.