The Rundown: CPS classes may be canceled tomorrow

CPS classroom
An empty classroom at Dawes Elementary School on Jan. 11, 2021. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ
CPS classroom
An empty classroom at Dawes Elementary School on Jan. 11, 2021. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

The Rundown: CPS classes may be canceled tomorrow

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Good afternoon! It’s Tuesday, and excuse me? A high of 15 degrees on Friday? I’m not sure I even remember how that feels. Here’s what you need to know today.

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1. Chicago Public Schools will cancel classes tomorrow if teachers walk out

Classes will be canceled should teachers decide to walk out beginning tomorrow, Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez told reporters today.

The Chicago Teachers Union, concerned about a record surge in COVID-19 infections, is holding a series of votes tonight to decide whether it’s 25,000 members will walk out as it calls for a return to remote learning. Voting is expected to last until 9 p.m.

Martinez said he has given the union a proposal and hopes to reach an agreement. He has previously noted that neither New York nor Los Angeles are moving to remote learning temporarily. [WBEZ]

Among the union’s demands is requiring “all staff, students, vendors and volunteers to provide a negative COVID-19 test result within 48 hours of returning to school,” reports the Chicago Sun-Times. [Sun-Times]

The debate comes as more evidence suggests remote learning is not without consequences. Children have seen declines in mental health and plummeting grades. The New York Times recently profiled a Pennsylvania high school to see how school leaders are handling the fallout. [NYT]

CTU President Jesse Sharkey, appearing on CNN today, said “remote learning was an unpleasant experience all the way around,” reports WTTW’s Paris Schutz. But he said the district needs to do a better job on testing. [Twitter]

2. Hospitalizations continue to rise in Chicago

City officials are reporting a seven-day average of 110 hospitalizations a day as of Monday, up 22% from the previous week. Only 127 of 900 intensive care beds are available, according to city data. [COVID Dashboard]

Hospitals across Illinois are dangerously close to hitting their capacity limits. And the vast majority of COVID-19 patients requiring immediate medical care are unvaccinated, according to health officials.

“This is largely a problem of the unvaccinated,” Dr. Jeff Bahr, Advocate Aurora Health’s chief medical group officer, told the Chicago Sun-Times. “The overwhelming majority of our COVID positive inpatients and the more severely affected inpatients are unvaccinated, and so what we are seeing are people infected with omicron who had they been vaccinated and boosted may not have had as severe an outcome.” [Sun-Times]

3. A record number of Americans quit their jobs in November

More than 4.5 million workers voluntarily left their jobs last month, the Labor Department said today. The news comes amid a labor shortage that has given workers the upper hand, resulting in many employers offering better pay and benefits.

The previous record, 4.4 million, took place just months ago in September. The hospitality industry and other low-wage sectors have particularly seen a high rate of resignations.

Many workers during the pandemic have gone back to school, changed careers, retired or left the workforce due childcare needs or safety concerns. As a result, the U.S. has seen a high number of job openings. Last month, an estimated 10.6 million jobs were vacant, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. [Washington Post]

4. U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush will retire

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, a former Black Panther and the only politician to defeat Barack Obama on the ballot, will not seek reelection in November, ending a 30-year career representing Illinois’ 1st congressional district.

Rush, 75, told the Chicago Sun-Times he made the decision after speaking with a grandson who wanted to learn more about him.

“I don’t want my grandchildren … to know me from a television news clip or something they read in a newspaper,” Rush said.

Before his time in Congress, Rush was the co-founder of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, working closely with leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark.

The assassination of Hampton and Clark by law enforcement was recently recounted in the movie Judas and the Black Messiah, in which Rush is portrayed by actor Darrell Britt-Gibson. [Sun-Times]

5. Most Americans don’t want to travel to the moon

Sixty-one percent of Americans would turn down a trip to the moon — the moon! — even if money were not an issue, according to a new Axios/Momentive poll.

Breaking down the survey’s results, people 18 to 34 were the most willing to head to the moon compared to other age groups, with 52% saying they’d put on a space helmet. [Axios]

Now that I think about it, the results kinda make sense. I can’t think of a movie about space where being in space wasn’t the problem. But while I wouldn’t want to reenact Gravity, I’d be down for some Moonraker action with a laser gun that goes “pew pew pew!”

Here’s what else is happening

  • Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will not be prosecuted in a criminal case involving allegations he groped a former aide. [AP]
  • Drivers remained stranded for nearly 24 hours on a highway near Washington, D.C., after a winter storm hit the area. [AP]
  • Charter schools in Chicago got federal pandemic loans meant for small businesses. [WBEZ]
  • David Bowie’s catalog of songs was reportedly sold to Warner Chappell Music for more than $250 million. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

Betty White will be honored in her hometown of suburban Oak Park this month. Officials will honor the late actress with “Betty White Day” on Jan. 17, her birthday. [Sun-Times]

Tell me something good …

What are you looking forward to in 2022?

Emily writes:

“I had a baby last year (we found out we were pregnant a week into the state lockdown … talk about mixed emotions), and we have missed out on all the things I thought we would get to do with a kid. I want to take him to swim at the beach and to watch the otters at the Shedd Aquarium. I want to see friends and play on playgrounds and take him into bookshops. I’m desperate to start making some memories with this kid outside of our home.”

Feel free to email me at therundown@wbez.org or tweet me at @whuntah, and your responses might be shared here this week.

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