CTU Questions Initial Decision to Keep CPS Schools Open

District officials later re-evaluated weather situation, canceled classes

Chicago Teachers Union officials weren't  happy with an initial decision by district officials to hold classes on Monday.

The union's president on Sunday demanded Chicago Public Schools officials "demonstrate concern for the health and safety of children and staff by closing its 600 plus school buildings on Monday."

"Right now, CPS and the City of Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management are sending confusing and mixed messages to the public about what to do," CTU President Karen Lewis said in a statement. "We believe common sense would dictate that CPS should close schools with at least 10 inches of snow already on the ground and a record-breaking low temperature of -10 degrees forecast for Monday."

District officials later re-evaluated the situation with city departments and determined that canceling classes was in the "best interest of students."

Forecast models indicated Monday's high temperatures would be in the dangerous, sub-zero range. The last time O'Hare International Airport recorded a sub-zero high was Jan.15, 2009, with -1 degrees, according to National Weather Service meteorologists.

The all-time lowest high temp was -11 on Jan. 18, 1994, and Dec. 24, 1983.

"Thousands of schools and both public and private businesses around the city and state will close their doors tomorrow. The CTU believes that the district should do the same," Lewis said.

Some parents agreed.

"I know it's Chicago and we're cold, but I mean when you're talking polar temperatures... I have concerns," said parent Christina Klinger-Mcarthur. "My son doesn't have special clothing like what they wear in Antarctica."

Before changing plans, CPS said a winter weather plan would be in place Monday to ensure students and school personnel had "a warm, comfortable and safe learning environment."

"While all District schools are slated to be open on Monday, I strongly encourage parents to use their own discretion in deciding whether to send their child to school," CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said in a statement. "We will be working throughout the weekend to ensure that our buildings and school officials are ready to received students on Monday."

Safe Passage workers were also expected to be on their routes and were slated to have warming vehicles along the routes.

CPS encouraged parents to "ensure students are properly dressed for the conditions."

"We expect nothing less when it comes to paying attention to the well-being of the children and teachers we serve," Lewis said. "In light of the forecast, sending children to school in such dangerous weather conditions shouldn't even be an option for parents."

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