Chicago Teachers Union votes to approve COVID-19 agreement

The Chicago Teachers Union voted to approve the COVID-19 agreement it made with the school district yesterday.

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A standoff between the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools ended on Wednesday after schools had been closed for five days.

Nearly 56% of the Chicago Teachers Union members voted to approve a COVID-19 safety agreement the union made with the district. The agreement included increasing testing and ensuring that teachers and students get N95 masks.

Chicago Public Schools, the third-largest U.S. education district, will resume in-person classes on Wednesday after a union backed ending a walkout over COVID-19 fears in an agreement it said would boost safeguards.

Teachers began their action last week, idling some 340,000 students, following a union vote to reinstate virtual instruction and a push for more rigorous safety protocols, including wider testing, as the Omicron variant spread.

Striking a conciliatory tone after the agreement was announced on Monday, CPS CEO Pedro Martinez said it included many good parts. He pointed to provisions to increase testing and ensure students and teachers get N95 masks.

One key part could soon make a difference: The school district set a trigger for when a high number of teacher absences could move a school to remote learning. This fall, there were examples of schools with high cases and quarantines, but remained open with skeleton crews and staff and no way to pause to slow the spread.

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