Chicago Teachers Union wants high school reopening delayed one week, citing COVID-19 variant concerns – Chicago Sun-Times

The Chicago Teachers Union wants Chicago Public Schools to delay the tentative April 19 re-opening of high schools for in-person learning by one week, citing concerns about a spike in coronavirus cases and older students’ ability to transmit COVID-19 like adults. City officials quickly rebuffed that request.

CTU President Jesse Sharkey, speaking on a Zoom call with union leaders and reporters Wednesday, said he is concerned about a COVID-19 variant spreading in states neighboring Illinois. It is unclear, he said, if the variant is behind the recent spike in Chicago cases.

“We need to answer those questions in order to understand if it’s safe to open schools right now for the high schools,” Sharkey said. “This is precisely the age of people in this city who, in states around the country, … are driving the surge in other places.”

Sharkey and union members said they were concerned that CPS plans to have students at some high schools attending in-person classes four days week, rather than splitting up the student body so that half attend, say, on Monday and Tuesday, with the other half coming in Wednesday and Thursday. The union wants assurances that scheduling allows for safe social distancing.

“The only way to keep things safe in high school is to have low enough student attendance numbers so that you can have social distancing; that’s a function of scheduling,” Sharkey said.

The CTU also suggested public health conditions are worsening close to the point that elementary