Chicago Teachers Union polling members over possible ‘shift to remote learning’ as coronavirus cases rise

Union previously engaged in bitter school reopening dispute earlier this year

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Chicago’s Teachers Union is polling its members over whether they would support a "district-wide pause and temporary shift to remote learning" as coronavirus cases are once again on the rise in the Windy City. 

The question surfaced in a survey titled "Possible Actions for Safety January 2022" that the union asked its rank-and-file to complete ahead of an all-member meeting Tuesday in which it said it will be "discussing how each member and every school safety committee can contribute to this escalation in our safety campaign." 

"If COVID continues to dangerously accelerate or should staffing levels in our schools drop to unsafe levels, would you support a... District-wide pause and temporary shift to remote learning," the online survey says, asking members to check either "yes" or "no." 

Chicago Teachers Union members display signs while former teacher Tara Stamps speaks ahead of a car caravan where teachers and supporters gathered to demand a safe return to in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic in Chicago, Ill., on Dec. 12, 2020. 

Chicago Teachers Union members display signs while former teacher Tara Stamps speaks ahead of a car caravan where teachers and supporters gathered to demand a safe return to in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic in Chicago, Ill., on Dec. 12, 2020.  (Max Herman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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"Cases of the new omicron variant are spiking in Chicago and around the country. It is imperative that we return from our winter break with a plan to ensure school communities’ and our own safety," the survey adds. "Please answer the following very short survey to help guide the CTU’s response to CPS’s inadequate pandemic response." 

The questioning comes as Chicago Public Schools is in the middle of its winter break, which is set to end Jan. 3. 

A sign outside of Columbus Elementary School lets visitors know that the playground has been closed on January 25, 2021 in Chicago, Ill. Chicago Public School teachers were scheduled to return to the classroom for in-person learning today, but the union objected and voted to continue remote learning.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A sign outside of Columbus Elementary School lets visitors know that the playground has been closed on January 25, 2021 in Chicago, Ill. Chicago Public School teachers were scheduled to return to the classroom for in-person learning today, but the union objected and voted to continue remote learning.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

It’s also not the first time Chicago Teacher’s union – citing safety concerns – has voiced its reluctance to teach in-person during the coronavirus pandemic.  

Earlier this year, it engaged in a school reopening dispute with the city that got increasingly bitter before both sides came to an agreement.  

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"In January, members voted overwhelmingly not to return to buildings and to continue teaching remotely until a safety agreement was in place. Courageous educators across the city braved frigid temperatures — and potential disciplinary action — teaching outside as the mayor tried to force students, educators and staff back into unsafe school buildings," the Union wrote in a year in review article on its website. "The vast majority of families refused and stuck with remote learning for the rest of the school year." 

Supporters of the Chicago Teachers Union participate in a car caravan during negotiations with Chicago Public Schools earlier this year. 

Supporters of the Chicago Teachers Union participate in a car caravan during negotiations with Chicago Public Schools earlier this year.  (REUTERS/Eileen T. Meslar)

"The courage and unity of our rank-and-file members secured a landmark agreement, and one of the best safety pacts in the U.S. for district educators and their students," the website added. "It included staff and student vaccinations, a health metric, building safety protocols, classroom ventilation improvements, and importantly, safety committees to help enforce the agreement building-by-building." 

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Fox News has reached out to Chicago Public Schools for comment. 

In the past week ending Monday, Chicago reported 23,237 new coronavirus cases