Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Jesse Sharkey said on Saturday that Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s opposition to online learning for students during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic is just a “talking point.”
Sharkey made the remarks in a press conference where the CTU unveiled their proposal to get Chicago Public Schools students back to in-person curriculum, Fox News reported.
“I hear the mayor say that she doesn’t want to do remote,” Sharkey said during the press conference. “But honestly, that’s just a talking point, it’s an idea – ’remote is bad.’”
Sharkey then added that “remote education is a tool” but that teachers view remote education “not as good as in-person” instruction.
As reports indicated, Lightfoot and the CTU have been at odds regarding getting students back into in-person learning following the emergence of the Omicron variant.
The Chicago Tribune noted that Lightfoot and public health officials have “shot down” the idea of students returning to remote learning despite a growing number of COVID-19 cases and students quarantining due to possible exposure.
“Under the latest offer, CTU members would return to classrooms starting Monday — not for formal classes but to distribute laptops and help students sign up for a weekly, school-based COVID-19 testing program. Remote learning would begin Wednesday with in-person classes slated to return Jan. 18, if case numbers hold right.
Scores of Chicago Public Schools staff and students are already absent from in-person classes because they have COVID-19 or are quarantining because of possible exposure. But Lightfoot, CPS and public health officials have repeatedly opposed a wholesale return to remote learning during the standoff that so far has resulted in three days of canceled classes.”
In Saturday’s press conference, the Tribune noted that Sharkey said that they are “not talking about a long, indefinite period where schools are remote,” but a temporary measure while “we’re dealing with the high point of a surge.”
In a joint statement released Saturday, Lightfoot and Pedro Martinez, the Chicago Public Schools chief executive, said that “the best, safest place for kids to be is in school,” and that “students need to be back in person as soon as possible. That’s what parents want. That’s what the science supports. We will not relent.”
As Landon reported, a group of Chicago parents sued the CTU this week after the union voted to delay a return to classrooms due to COVID concerns.
"Throughout this entire pandemic, our kids have paid a tremendous price for adults' mistakes and miscalculations, and now the teachers’ union has hastily and recklessly put them on their political roller coaster again," Laurel Golden, lead plaintiff in the lawsuit and a CPS parent, said in a press release announcing the lawsuit. "The science is clear, and so is the desire of parents: Our kids need and deserve to be in school. This illegal strike must be ended immediately, and we must get kids back into the classroom."