Cicero teachers refuse to return to unsafe classrooms

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

The majority of teachers in School District 99 who were surveyed over the weekend have chosen to continue to teach remotely despite the district’s directive to return to classrooms on January 11. “By demanding that we return to classrooms in the midst of the pandemic, Superintendent Rodolfo Hernandez and the Dist. 99 Board of Education are not prioritizing the safety of our teachers and school staff,” said Rachel Esposito, president of the Cicero Council. “For our own safety, we have no choice but to reject the District’s plan to return to classrooms this week. We must stand up for our rights.”

The educators who have refused to return to buildings will continue to teach effectively from remote locations, which they have been doing since the start of the pandemic.  Cicero schools serve about 11,000 students, predominantly from Latino families who have been hit hard by COVID-19. As of January 7, the community’s COVID positivity rate is nearly 13 percent, considerably higher than the IDPH’s recommended rate of 8 percent or less to return to schools safely. The union filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge against the District last month because it has refused to bargain a safety agreement with the union, as required under Federal labor law. A hearing on the ULP is expected to be held on January 21.

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