After implementing a mask mandate two years ago, Chicago Public Schools will become the latest district in the country — and one of the last in the state — to lift its mask mandate in school buildings starting Monday.
The district’s change in mask policy comes as federal, state, and local guidance has aligned. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention late last month said schools could drop masks unless COVID cases and hospitalizations in the community were high.
But the sudden change in Chicago’s mask policy — just two weeks after the Chicago Board of Education voted to affirm its commitment to masks and other COVID mitigation strategies — has prompted swift criticism from the teachers union, which said the district violated a safety agreement between the district and the Chicago Teachers Union. The agreement was forged after district officials canceled five days of classes when teachers walked out over safety concerns amid the rise of COVID-19 cases across the city
The CTU has filed an unfair labor practice complaint against Chicago Public Schools, and demanded the district meet with union leaders at the bargaining table.
CEO Pedro Martinez on Wednesday said he didn’t anticipate a work stoppage.
Still, teachers and administrators are left navigating the change in policy. Some parents have welcomed the change, while others said they are worried, especially in communities hardest hit by the pandemic where vaccination rates remain low.
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