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State's largest teacher unions threaten ‘health and safety strikes’


Thursday, July 30, 2020  |  Article  |  • By Brett Rowland | The Center Square

Education--Elementary and Secondary (36)

Unions call for remote learning at start of school year

(The Center Square) – The state's two largest education unions said all options are on the table, including strikes, to make sure school districts have appropriate protections in place. 

The Illinois Education Association and Illinois Federation of Teachers, which represent 238,000 school, college and university employees in the state, also called for the school year to begin with remote learning.

The unions said in-person instruction was possible, but more planning was needed.

"We believe that some types of in-person instruction can be achieved with health and safety mitigation in any individual community, but absent a practical safety plan that includes a clear line of responsibility and enforcement, we call for the 2020-21 school year to begin with remote learning," Illinois Education Association President Kathi Griffin and Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery said in a joint statement.

The union leaders said they would use every tool available to make sure all school districts follow state and federal safety guidelines.

"No avenue or action is off the table – the courts, the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board – nothing, including health and safety strikes," they said in the statement. 

School districts across the state continue to tinker with plans for the fall semester. Several suburban Chicago school districts that had initially planned to provide in-person instruction has since switched to remote learning plans. 

Many districts in Illinois have opted for hybrid plans that blend remote learning and in-person instruction.