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“Your determined struggle is being watched around the world”: Parents, workers back Chicago teachers’ fight against in-person learning

Parents, workers back Chicago teachers fight against in-person learning

There is widespread support among parents and workers in Chicago, throughout the US and internationally for the fight by Chicago teachers to oppose the efforts of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the administration of Mayor Lori Lightfoot to force through a return to in-person learning.

The CTU has instructed teachers to return to schools today, Wednesday, even as they are voting on an agreement between the CTU and CPS to reopen schools amidst an unprecedented surge of the pandemic.

A Chicago parent, who asked not to be identified, said: “I’m not sending my daughter back. I definitely don’t feel it is safe to send my daughter because I know CPS, the classrooms are overcrowded. You got 35-plus kids in a classroom. That’s a problem.

“At my kids’ school, they don’t have the plastic barriers, they have the windows open and things like that, but still, there’s a serious reality there that educators and parents know, which is that everything that Lori and [Chicago Commissioner of Public Health Allison] Arwady have been stating in their pressers is complete and absolute lies. And they’re putting us in danger.”

On the CPS-CTU agreement, she said, “I absolutely am in disagreement with that. You guys are the rank-and-file, and leadership needs to listen to you. Vote ‘no,’ because that is ridiculous.

“The reality is, you can get anything done that you need to do if you have everyone in agreement, so if everyone walked out and refused to go back, whether it’s ten days, twelve days, twenty days, what are they gonna do? We know that there’s a national substitute shortage.

“In Illinois, you can’t come in as a substitute without having the certifications. So knowing that, how are they going to open the schools? You can’t open schools if the teachers are not there, so [Lightfoot] would have to back down from barking, stop being a little Napoleon, and she would give in and compromise or give you what you want.

On the “two masks per person” provision of the CTU-CPS agreement, touted by the union as a “victory,” she said: “It’s not even two masks because they’re not giving out enough to cover students and staff, so someone is not gonna get a mask.”

On the CTU’s effort to send teachers back to work before voting on the agreement, the parent said: “When I heard that, I was like, are you kidding me? I could have done those negotiations. That is crazy. You can’t sit here and tell me you’re gonna tell your membership to step out of the classrooms and you’re gonna fight for better mitigations and testing and PPE and all these different things, and then you have this whole big drama, this theater of going out and caravanning, and then you come right back and you fold like a house of cards.

“I’m immunocompromised, and every day that my child goes out and comes back, I’m very concerned, because they would be orphans if something happens to me.”

Many workers responded to a statement from the Chicago Educators Rank-and-File Committee calling for a “no” vote on the CTU-CPS deal.

David wrote, “I am proud to stand in complete solidarity with the Chicago educators’ demand for virtual schooling! For their respective roles in perpetrating this disaster, Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Teachers Union forfeit any claim to a role in resolving the same. They must step aside. They have failed and stand to be dismissed. An independent, rank-and-file committee in every school and workplace! Power to educator and worker committees!”

A teacher in Tennessee sent the following statement of support:

“Absolutely no return to in-person instruction until significant safety measures are in place! The agreement between the CTU and the City of Chicago is a death sentence. Teachers must vote “No”!

“Mayor Lightfoot is the one who stopped all instruction when she locked teachers out of their virtual classrooms. She is the one who prevented teachers from performing their jobs. Chicago Teachers must hold the line against the criminal herd immunity policies of the Democrats and Wall Street!”

Clay, a retired teacher in New South Wales, Australia, wrote, “Your determined struggle, now in a critical phase, to defend your fellow teachers, your students and the families of all from the ravages of COVID-19 is being watched around the world.

“In New South Wales, Australia’s largest state, where I live, the state premier, Perrottet, is ruthlessly determined to force all school children back to face-to-face learning when the summer holidays finish at the end of January.

“This is as the state authorities admit Omicron infections and hospital admissions are out of control and will have risen exponentially by then. Teachers are deeply concerned but get no leadership from their union. Terrified parents of the millions involved are rushing to get children vaccinated with the Pfizer 5-11 dose, which just became available two days ago, under conditions where this vaccine rollout is a shambles. Many will not get it before the government’s deadline. Nothing has changed in the schools to make the school buildings anything other than incubators for further spreading and mutating of the virus.

“Your stand in Chicago will and is serving as a vital experience for the growing opposition to sacrificing whole generations of youth in Australia and worldwide on the altar of profits.”

Kosta, an educator in Ontario, Canada, wrote, “I support Chicago teachers because all educators are facing the same struggle all over the western world. Money hungry criminals at the top of the pyramid have decided that schools will be opened, and everyone will be made to catch Covid. We are victims of a massive social crime, and the unions are playing a nasty role.

“Teachers, from England, to Germany, France, Canada, and the United States, are being forced into unsafe schools for the economy to keep on ticking. Unvaccinated children are at serious risk of getting very sick and spreading the virus. 

“Your struggle is our struggle. What happens in Chicago happens in London, Paris, Berlin, and Toronto! The ruling class plays by one playbook. They are a team. Therefore WE, must play from one playbook! Teachers and workers from all continents must join together as one team! A united working class fighting to end the pandemic!

“Don’t trust your government. Don’t trust your unions. Don’t trust media talking heads, and don’t trust your mayor! Trust in each other, and keep fighting Chicago! Keep flapping your wings! There is a hurricane coming like the windy city has never seen before!”

CTU orders Chicago teachers to resume in-person instruction Wednesday, before voting concludes on agreement

The Chicago Teachers Union is attempting to force teachers to resume in-person instruction for over 300,000 students tomorrow, before educators have even finished voting on the agreement between the school district and the CTU to fully reopen schools.

Electronic ballots for voting on the deal were to have been emailed by 3:00 p.m. today. However, some teachers reported on Facebook hours after that they had yet to receive one.

The decision by Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the CTU to reopen schools before voting concludes has been taken in utter contempt for teachers’ democratic will. The move is aimed at making the reopening an accomplished fact.

Moreover, the CTU has stated that in the event that the agreement is rejected, its House of Delegates “will decide how and when to restart the remote work action,” raising the possibility that the union and CPS will simply attempt to keep schools open regardless of the outcome of the vote.

On Monday, the House of Delegates voted to suspend the remote work-action, which teachers had voted overwhelmingly to initiate last week.

The CTU is holding an online membership meeting now to “review what’s in the tentative agreement and answer questions.” At the beginning of the meeting, CTU President Jesse Sharkey said that, if teachers reject the agreement, a resumption of the work action will only continue if “the House of Delegates chooses to do that.”

Teachers have reacted with outrage on social media to the deal, which, if implemented, would set the stage for a new explosion of COVID-19 cases in the city and the region.

Underscoring the degree to which the virus is spreading out-of-control, Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Tuesday that she herself had tested positive. Lightfoot has been in the forefront of the Democratic Party’s efforts to suppress opposition to the unsafe reopening of schools, in order to ensure their parents return to unsafe workplaces and continue to produce profits.

“The teachers are with us, and we have their backs”: One thousand K-12 students in New York City walk out to protest unsafe reopening of schools

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On Tuesday, nearly one thousand students at over 30 K-12 schools in New York City participated in a walkout to protest the unsafe reopening of the largest school district in the United States, amid a surge of the highly infectious and deadly Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The reopening of schools is being led by the new mayor of New York City, Democrat Eric Adams.

The New York City walkout was organized by high school students at Stuyvesant High School and Brooklyn Technical High School, who formed the group “NYC Student Walkout for COVID Safety” to organize their fellow students.

Four Stuyvesant High School students who participated in the walkout spoke with a reporter from the WSWS outside their school.

Brehami said, “Schools should be shut down to bring the cases down until we have a better solution to the new variants.” He emphasized the danger that people can still transmit the virus even if they are vaccinated.

“All the government is focusing on right now is the money, they’re not focusing on the well-being of their citizens.”

Another student, John, whose parents both have medical conditions that make them high-risk individuals, said, “Given how contagious this new Omicron variant is, I feel like it was a really poor decision on the mayor and on the DOE’s [Department of Education’s] part to keep the schools open. I honestly don’t understand what the point of it was.”

“Especially at our school— Stuyvesant—we’ve had about 500 kids go absent because they’ve either caught it or someone else has caught it and they needed to quarantine. We’re being forced to come to school in such an obviously dangerous position—at this point, we don’t know who has the virus, I could have it, my friend could have it, anyone could have it. So the best decision right now is to go remote.

“We should prioritize the safety of the students and our families first because, otherwise, what else do we have?”

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One thousand Oakland, California students plan strike in opposition to deadly school reopening

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With an unprecedented wave of cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 ripping through schools, students at the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) in Northern California have joined the growing national wave of students and educators opposing the unsafe and deadly policy of in-person learning.

A petition urging a district-wide school strike if demands are not met has gained over 960 signatures at the time of writing. The petition demands that OUSD shift from in-person learning to online learning, or that the district provide KN95/N95 masks for every student, twice a week PCR and Rapid Tests for everyone on campus and outdoor spaces to eat safely when it rains.

“If these demands are not met,” write the students, “we will be striking by not attending school. We will be striking until we get what we need to be safe.”

The students say that they will call on OUSD students to strike starting January 18th should their demands not be met.

The move of almost 1000 Oakland high school students joins thousands of other high school students in MassachusettsMichigan, Portland, and now New York City (where students walked out Tuesday), who are fighting against the reckless policy of school reopening.

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Statement of the IYSSE: The way forward for high school students in the fight against the pandemic and the reopening of schools

The International Youth and Students for Social Equality issued a statement on January 11 calling for students and youth to turn to the working class to fight for a policy to end the pandemic. The statement begins:

High school students throughout the country are on the move! Thousands of students from Oakland, California to New York City are organizing opposition to the unsafe return to in-person learning amid a massive surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

On Tuesday, tens of thousands of students in New York City walked out of their classrooms in over 30 schools to protest the unsafe conditions. The action, organized through social media, forced the closure of several schools throughout the city.

Nearly a thousand students have signed onto a district wide online student petition in Oakland, California, stating that students “are not comfortable going to school with the rising cases of COVID-19.” The students are fighting for an end to in-person learning and proper PPE and testing if and when they do return to the classroom.

The International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE), the youth and student movement of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP), welcomes and supports this courageous stand taken by students. In fighting against the unsafe reopening of schools, these youth are fighting not only for their own health and safety, but for the community as a whole.

We urge students who are participating in these struggles, or wish to join them, to share this statement widely and contact the IYSSE today .

The IYSSE is a socialist youth group, fighting to link up the struggle of students and youth with teachers, parents and other workers in a common fight against the reckless “herd immunity” policy of the entire political establishment, which encourages the virus to run rampant, regardless of the carnage.

Read the full statement

Los Angeles school district restarts in-person learning as pediatric hospitalizations skyrocket

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Students and teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the second largest district in the nation, returned to classrooms Tuesday as cases of COVID-19 skyrocket in the metropolitan area and across the country. In mandating the return to school sites, school authorities, with the sanction of the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) union, are deliberately exposing 665,000 students and more than 50,000 teachers and school employees to mass infections, long-term disability and death.

The reopening of the schools will also vastly accelerate community spread under conditions in which Los Angeles County reached a record weekly high of 200,000 confirmed cases last week. During that same period, area hospitalizations doubled to 3,200 people. Statewide, more than 6 million cases have been reported since the start of the pandemic, an increase of 1 million cases over the past two months alone. Two million of the state’s 6 million cases have occurred in Los Angeles County alone.

Approximately 65,000 students and staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, according to mandatory testing conducted by the district during the winter break. More than 760 schools in the district have reported more than 10 cases each, while 140 schools reported more than 100 cases. Six schools reported more than 300 cases.

Kindergarten students sit in their classroom on the first day of in-person learning at Maurice Sendak Elementary School in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

“There’s no way we should be open,” John, a middle school teacher told the World Socialist Web Site. “Did you hear the statistics? 16.6 percent of students are positive, and 14.5 percent of adult employees were COVID positive. Today, most teachers were averaging only 60-70 percent of their students who were present.

“There are minimal additional safety protocols in place. At least one teacher at my school tested positive for the second time. We should have been on Zoom at least until Monday, January 31, or the following Monday, February 7. That would have been 3-4 weeks, a very manageable number. It’s better than getting COVID. I got emails from kids today. ‘I’m at home because I tested positive, so I’m not coming in.’

“If Chicago can stay out, why can’t LA Unified? You don’t want more people getting sick. We’re suffering through the holiday surge because people got together with a very, very contagious variant of COVID. As for the UTLA, it is completely ineffectual. They sold out a long time ago. It’s ridiculous.

“Teachers are getting tired of being treated like doormats. We’re frontline workers. We have 30-40 plus kids in each class. Come on! What’s the deal here? There’s this huge budget surplus in the state and the district. I’d like to know how that money is being spent. That money doesn’t go to the teachers and supplies; it goes to contracts where outside subcontractors are making a ton a money. And people within the district get kickbacks. A lot of people feel this way.”

Another LAUSD teacher told the WSWS that classrooms were only about 50 percent full, as many parents kept their children home on the first day back. “There’s NO way that LAUSD should be back in person!”

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Seattle teacher to Chicago educators: “We stand with you”

A biology teacher in Seattle, Washington sent the following message of support to Chicago teachers:

“Chicago teachers, we want you to know that we stand with you in your quest for safe working conditions. Being forced back into school buildings when a global pandemic rages both inside and outside those doors is not something we should tolerate.

“Stay strong and vote ‘no’ to returning to in-person learning.

“Also adding more information on how this whole pandemic is being mishandled, a friend of a mine in the Edmonds [Washington] School District, said, ‘Wondering if everyone was aware that being kept home for close contact with a positive case in elementary classrooms is being based on seating charts not actual classrooms as a whole. Like only the kids close to that kid on the seating chart stay home even though they freely mingle throughout the day.’”

Teachers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana plan sickout to protest COVID spread

Over 350 teachers in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System are planning a sick-out Wednesday to voice their concerns over teaching in-person amidst widespread infections and staff shortages.

The East Baton Rouge Parish Educators Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association, is sponsoring the single day sick-out and will host a press conference this evening. No doubt under immense pressure from rank-and-file teachers, who are calling for a switch to virtual school until transmission is brought under control, the organization will use the sickout to dissipate steam while making no real efforts to shut down in-person learning.

In just the first two weeks of the semester, many schools across Baton Rouge and all of Louisiana have already had to switch to virtual instruction, though the shifts are short-lived and wholly inadequate. The state has yet to resume its weekly K-12 case reports following winter break, but New Orleans Public Schools are already tracking a record 2,233 active cases.

New York students initiate mass “Walkout for COVID Safety”

Thousands of students at dozens of schools throughout New York City’s five boroughs participated in a “Walkout for COVID Safety” today in opposition to herding students and teachers into unsafe classrooms amid the largest wave of the pandemic.

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An Instagram post by the group organizing the walkout, which received over 16,000 likes, stated, “By participating in the walkout, you will be voicing your disapproval for keeping the schools open in a time when it is very obviously unsafe for teachers and students.”

The same post cited that “more than 38,000 teachers and students have reported testing positive for COVID since December 24th. That’s more cases than the entire 2021-2022 school year so far in less than two weeks.”

Felicia, a junior at Bronx High School of Science who helped organize the walkout, told journalist Sarah Belle Lin of Riverdale Press: “Our school conditions are not safe right now. The amount of cases that we have are just... There are so many people sick. Our mayor [Democrat Eric Adams} is not doing enough to protect us, all the millions of kids in this school system.”

Felicia said the students were demanding the option to go remote and not participate in in-person learning.

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Chicago rank-and-file committee calls for rejection of return to in-person learning

The Chicago Educators Rank-and-File Committee (CERFC) issued a statement today calling for a rejection of the CTU-CPS agreement to reopen infected schools. A portion of the statement is posted below, and the full statement is available here. To contact the CERFC, text 312-834-4773 or email chicagoeducatorscommittee@gmail.com.

Vote “No” on the CTU-CPS deal to reopen infected schools and spread COVID-19! Educators must launch a walkout now to save lives!

Chicago teachers are being asked to vote on a death warrant. The move by the leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union to reopen schools to in-person learning will mean the sickness and death of teachers, parents, students and community members. This is what teachers are being asked to approve today.

The announcement of the CTU yesterday of a deal is an utter surrender to Mayor Lightfoot and the campaign by the Biden administration to send educators and 300,000 students back into infected schools, regardless of the cost to their health and lives.

In a gross and undemocratic manner, the CTU is seeking to overturn the will of the majority of educators and end the life-saving action taken by CPS teachers which is being supported by parents, students and workers across the country and the world.

The Chicago Educators Rank-and-File Committee calls on teachers to reject this agreement and organize rank-and-file committees, independent of the CTU, to prepare a citywide walkout and demand the resources necessary to implement high quality virtual-only instruction to all of our students.

On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reported that the week ending January 6 saw 580,247 new pediatric COVID-19 cases, up 74 percent from the previous week’s record of 325,000 cases. There were also a record 1,636 pediatric hospitalizations and 14 additional deaths among children.

Full Statement

Philadelphia teacher calls for Chicago teachers to reject return to work

A Philadelphia teachers sent the following statement to the World Socialist Web Site:

It is difficult to imagine that teachers left work and pay for four days for these kind of (and l emphasize “kind of”) safety protocols--which read like coal miners striking and accepting the concession of face-covering hankies as safety protocols to combat black lung. These Chicago Covid protocols appear non-substantive, which data from school and other settings seem to predict. So in sum, l call on Chicago teachers to reject this union-district prescribed “agreement” on the basis of the undemocratic means by which it came to be, and on the basis of the unsafe protocols it concedes in the end.”

Chicago teachers react with outrage at deal to force reopening of schools

Immediately after the Chicago Teachers Union announced an agreement with the Chicago Public Schools to force the reopening of schools to in-person learning, there was a flood of opposition on social media. The CTU’s live-streamed press conference, which has now been viewed over 25,000 times, has over 2,100 comments, with the overwhelming majority denouncing the agreement. A small sample include the following:

  • CTU this is unacceptable! To send your members back without a vote is beyond wrong. Parents came out to support you and now you send teachers and students back with nothing in place? This isn’t leadership. I truly hope the rank and file members reject this proposal.
  • Us parents support you all the time but you guys always let us down. Some of us really wanted REMOTE LEARNING. Yet no one ever cares about our children’s safety. SMH
  • I thought there was mortal peril and that there were too many quarantined teachers to even staff the schools. What’s happened to change any of that?
  • They did not let teachers vote tonight for a reason. They knew teachers would vote against the counter offer.

On Twitter, a CTU member stated, “I will be voting no on the proposed agreement and I am incredibly disappointed in the CTU. We have not won the safety increases they told us we were fighting for.”

Another wrote, “So my lost paycheck paid for… nothing. An insanely high metric for being able to go remote, being in person before the 18th, & testing/contact tracing that puts yet more work on teachers. Oh & 2 N95 masks. This is not something to be proud of.”

A parent in Chicago tweeted, “So the House of Delegates cares about the health and safety of the kids and the teachers, but just not that much, huh? In the end, when it’s put up or shut up, this is the result. As a #CPSparent, I am SORELY disappointed.”

The struggle of Chicago teachers to stop the spread of COVID-19 inspired walkouts last week by teachers in Oakland and San Francisco, California, while high school students in New York City, Boston, Oakland and many other cities have circulated petitions calling for fully remote learning until the pandemic is contained.

A parent of a public-school student in Chicago told the WSWS on Monday: “I 100 percent support the Chicago teachers. The fact of the matter is that the investments CPS made before the start of the school year still fall short of what many of the schools need in order to safely protect students and staff. Furthermore, CPS is just outright lying to Chicago families about the cleanliness of schools as well as the transmission rates at schools. A study that conflicts with CPS showed that school has the highest rate of transmission compared to any other place for children.”

Doug, a retired teacher from the University of Washington in Seattle, sent a statement of support to the WSWS. Familiar with the betrayals of the so-called unions under the “labor-management partnership,” he voiced his encouragement at the formation of independent rank-and-file committees and the international solidarity he sees emerging. He said, “Thank you students and educators in Chicago and around the world, for standing up for yourselves and for all of us, really. You have tons more support out here than you probably realize. Stay strong and independent, and best of luck fighting the bosses and their partners in the union hierarchy.”

A Montgomery, Alabama, teacher told the WSWS on Monday: “I’m glad [Chicago and Oakland teachers] are taking a stand and that we are hearing about it down in the South. It hurts to hear people say that kids have to be in school no matter what, no matter if the person pouring out their time and education on them gets sick or dies or carries COVID home to their loved ones. It’s encouraging to hear about people standing up against the government and the school boards and refusing to be used this way, and I support them.”

The World Socialist Web Site calls on all Chicago teachers to reject the plan to reopen schools, which will only fuel the spread of the pandemic among students, teachers and the entire community. The betrayal of the CTU demonstrates that this fight can only be carried forward through the building of independent, rank-and-file safety committees in every school and workplace.

Chicago teachers: Contact the Chicago Educators Rank-and-File Committee to continue the fight against in-person learning! Text 312-834-4773 or email chicagoeducatorscommittee@gmail.com.

Chicago Teachers Union attempts to ram through agreement to reopen schools as Omicron surges

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On Monday night, the leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) orchestrated a maneuver aimed at subverting the decision of teachers, which has the support of students and parents, to reject a return to in-person learning amidst the massive spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The CTU pushed through a vote at a House of Delegates meeting to “suspend” the teachers’ remote work action and send educators back to schools on Tuesday, before a vote by the whole membership. Teachers are being instructed to prepare classrooms for a return of students on Wednesday, and a vote is being held simultaneously today on whether to approve the agreement.

The deal reached with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot would send over 300,000 students back into overcrowded, poorly-ventilated classrooms, setting the stage for a massive surge of infections at the district’s 636 schools and in the city as a whole.

Rank-and-file teachers must reject this agreement, which is a complete capitulation to the Democratic Party’s program of mass infection through the full reopening of schools and workplaces. For the past week, the fight by Chicago teachers to stop in-person learning has been the focal point of the class struggle in the US, galvanizing opposition among educators, parents and students across the country and internationally.

CTU leaders had initially said the remote work action would last until January 18, and the union made this one of its main demands in light of the enormous increase in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. Another 208 Chicagoans were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Monday, more than any other day so far in the pandemic. The testing positivity rate now stands at 18.9 percent, and the seven-day average of daily new cases in Cook County is at a record 13,701.

Under these objective conditions, the CTU is attempting to send its members and students into unsafe buildings, knowing thousands will be infected and an untold number could become hospitalized, suffer long-term debilitation or even death.

The terms reached with CPS are wholly unscientific and predicated on accepting mass infections among students and staff. After posturing for months that it would reject any deal without a district-wide health metric to trigger a transition to remote learning, the CTU caved to Lightfoot’s demand that only individual schools would close for five days if 30 percent (!) or more teachers are absent for two consecutive days due to testing positive for COVID-19 or are in quarantine from exposure. Even this will happen if substitute teachers cannot bring the number to under 25 percent. Schools could also be closed if 40 percent of students are infected or in quarantine.

CTU also gave up on demands for widespread testing of students on an opt-out principle, with the district agreeing merely to test 10 percent of students at each school. These 10 percent would not even be tested every week. Rather, just a portion of them would be selected randomly.

The only other mitigation measure agreed to by CPS, which the CTU has touted as a “win,” is that the school district will provide a limited supply of KN95 masks to CPS workers and students, which will likely amount to no more than a couple of masks per person.

The CTU is not even fighting to restore pay for the four days that teachers were locked out by the Lightfoot administration, leaving them at the mercy of CPS CEO Pedro Martinez and the Board of Education as to whether to extend the school year to add in the days missed. Following the 2019 strike by Chicago teachers, Lightfoot similarly refused to extend the school year, resulting in four days of lost pay.

The World Socialist Web Site calls on all Chicago teachers to reject the plan to reopen schools, which will only fuel the spread of the pandemic among students, teachers and the entire community. The betrayal of the CTU demonstrates that this fight can only be carried forward through the building of independent, rank-and-file safety committees in every school and workplace.

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More than half a million children infected with COVID-19 in the US last week, shattering previous records

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Monday’s report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for the week ending January 6 recorded a staggering 580,247 pediatric COVID-19 cases, up 74 percent from the previous week’s record 325,000 cases. There were also a record 1,636 pediatric hospitalizations and 14 additional deaths.

Each region of the country has skyrocketing child cases that have blown past previous records. The Northeast, with 155,000 cases last week, has nearly overtaken the South for the region with the highest number of weekly child infections. The Midwest and West Coast are not far behind.

Across the US, pediatric hospitals are rapidly filling, even before the full effects of Omicron’s spread are felt. Dr. Danielle Zerr, pediatric infectious diseases expert at Seattle Children’s Hospital, told the New York Times that child hospitalizations are “blowing away our previous Delta wave at the end of the summer, early fall, which had been our highest prior to that.”

In Louisiana, Dr. Catherine O’Neal of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, observed to WWNO that “we’re already seeing our max number of kids who have ever been admitted to the children’s hospital during one surge, and we’re not done with this surge yet. Cases continue to mount. We could have our sickest pediatric population of the pandemic so far, and that is not mild.”

The 14 deaths were spread across each region of the country. The corporate media continues its virtual cover-up of these children’s deaths, with only one California child’s death being reported by local or national news in recent weeks. As of January 10, the CDC has documented 1,084 pediatric deaths, with a staggering 44 deaths recorded by their tally in just the past 10 days.

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“There are zero safety protocols to keep us safe from COVID”: Autoworker denounces conditions at Warren Truck Plant

The WSWS received the following letter from a temporary autoworker at Stellantis' Warren Truck Assembly Plant.

I’m writing you all because I’m sick of the way things are being run at Stellantis Warren Truck Assembly Plant.

1) There are zero safety protocols to keep the employees safe from COVID. They don’t give people adequate time to disinfect workstations after the previous shift and we can’t wear the proper mask, the N95, because it’s not company-issued.

2) They are wearing us out with the mandatory overtime. Working 6-7 days a week is a strain on us. We have families we never get to see and spend time with, we can’t properly rest our bodies and minds and a lot of us have other things, important things, to take care of that we have to constantly push back and reschedule because we can’t get an adequate amount of days off.

We literally told our spineless union reps to really push for the ABC shift (4 days, 10 hours with 1 mandatory Sunday a month) so we can have proper time off every week, but they didn’t.

3) They won’t roll over the Temporary Part Time workers to full time and they’re now being mandated to work 12-hour shifts, which is unfair to them. A lot of us feel like our so-called unions reps have sold us out.

Every time someone asks Dee Robinson, the UAW Local 140 vice president, or Eric Graham, the local president, a question directly, they tell is to ask our steward or committeeman, none of whom ever have an answer, instead of answering the questions, because they’re too busy giving birthday shout-outs.

The restrooms are always dirty, they're constantly pumping in cold air during the winter, the roof still leaks, there are birds flying around and pooping on things. We can’t even get a new work badge unless we request one online. This place is a joke and things need to change.