Chicago public schools, the third largest district in the country, will begin the fall semester with all-remote learning following strong pushback from the city teachers union against a hybrid plan.
The Chicago Teachers Union had threatened strikes if the district moved ahead with a combination of in-person and remote learning, saying the plan would not be able to keep the district’s 300,000 students and faculty safe from coronavirus outbreaks.
“A win for teachers, students and parents. It’s sad that we have to strike or threaten to strike to be heard, but when we fight we win!” union president Jesse Sharkey wrote on Twitter on Tuesday night.
Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the decision on Wednesday, but said the move was prompted by a rise in coronavirus cases in the city.
“Here in Chicago, we are in a better place than most other areas in the country and in the surrounding area,” Lightfoot said at a press conference. “But the fact of the matter is, we are seeing an increase in cases. The decision to start remotely makes sense for a district of CPS’s size and diversity.”
Parents of public school students are divided on whether and how to reopen schools in the fall. A July survey commissioned by advocacy group Stand for Children Illinois found that 19 percent of the district’s parents believed schools should fully reopen, 35 percent supported a hybrid plan, and 40 percent would opt for all-remote learning.
Several districts in the area surrounding Chicago have also decided to start the fall with all-remote learning after rejecting hybrid plans. Responses from parents have been mixed.
“It’s kind of funny, because when people hear that I want my kids back in the classroom this fall, some will be like, ‘Are you a Trump supporter?’–which I’m not, but what does that have to do with it?” Jessica Hockett, a resident of Evanston just north of Chicago, told the Chicago Tribune.