Chicago teachers refuse to return to in-person work

Some Chicago Public Schools teachers expected to report to the classroom ahead of preschool students’ anticipated return next week stayed home Monday over coronavirus concerns.

The nation’s third-largest district plans to bring students back in phases. Starting next week, preschool and some special education students can return or continue remote learning. Students in K-8 have the option Feb. 1. A date for high school students hasn’t been set.

The Chicago Teachers Union opposed the plan over safety. Dozens of aldermen also objected with concerns over health and racial equity. District data show roughly 37% of eligible students planned to return, a number that was disproportionately white.

Linda Perales, a southwest side special education teacher, told reporters Monday she’d continue remote teaching, partly because social distancing measures impact teaching.

"They will have to wear a face mask all day," she said. "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."

CPS officials said the plan is as safe for teachers as it is for principals, custodians and others who’ve worked through the pandemic.

Roughly 5,800 teachers and staff were expected in classrooms Monday, according to The Chicago Tribune. It wasn’t clear how many showed.


CTU spokeswoman Chris Geovanis said the union doesn’t know how many remained remote. CPS officials didn’t immediately return messages.

Illinois reported 5,059 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases Monday and 79 deaths. Overall, Illinois has logged 984,880 infections and 16,834 deaths.