CTU President Jesse Sharkey and Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
CTU President Jesse Sharkey and Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Sharkey wants to delay the reopening of CPS high schools by one week. | Rich Hein; Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

CPS has targeted an April 19 return date for in-person learning.

The Chicago Teachers Union wants the school district 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, among other things.

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 also learned this week that CPS plans to have up to 70% of high school students attending in-person classes four days week. Sharkey said that it had been the union’s understanding, until recently, that in-person learning would only be scheduled for two days a week.

“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.

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