By Brendan O’Brien
CHICAGO (Reuters) – Chicago Public Schools, the third-largest school district in the United States, will hold all classes online this fall for its 350,000 students amid the COVID-19 pandemic, local media reported on Tuesday.
School officials are expected to unveil details of their plan as early as Wednesday, the Chicago Tribune reported citing unnamed sources.
The development came shortly after the Chicago Teachers Union threatened a work stoppage if the school system went with its original plan to hold some in-person classes.
A Chicago Teachers Union official who asked not to be identified told Reuters on Tuesday afternoon that the union plans to discuss early next week a possible strike vote demanding remote learning.
It would be the strongest action yet, led by rank-and-file teachers across the nation who have voiced frustration this summer over plans to reopen schools and return to in-person learning in the fall.
School reopenings have also become a white-hot election issue after President Donald Trump demanded a return to in-person learning throughout the country, while Democrats urge remote schooling until COVID-19 case rates flatten.
Chicago Public Schools were planning to have students in classrooms for two days week in pods of 15 pupils. Parents can choose to have their student take classes entirely online.
Teachers in Chicago and dozens of other school districts across the U.S. on Monday took part in a day of protest demanding in-person classes not be held until scientific data supports it.
If Chicago teachers ultimately strike, it would be their second work stoppage in the last calendar year. In October, the system’s 26,000 teachers staged an 11-day walkout over overcrowded classrooms, lack of support staff and pay. To go on strike, the union would need approval from three-quarters of its rank-and-file members.
(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Aurora Ellis)