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Illinois’ largest teachers unions say they’re willing to strike over reopening plans

Chicago Teachers Protest

Photo by Max Herman/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Illinois Education Association and Illinois Federation of Teachers announced Wednesday that they are willing to strike if schools don’t follow safe reopening plans this fall.

“No avenue or action is off the table — the courts, the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board — including health and safety strikes. The entire weight of the IEA and the IFT will be used in whatever way is necessary to protect the students and the staff who educate them,” the statement said.

Together, the IEA and IFT represent 238,000 employees in public and private schools, colleges, and universities throughout the state. 

IFT held a press conference last week to call for districts to return to remote learning for the beginning of the school year, saying that it is the safest option for students. Dan Montgomery, president of IFT, also said that it might be safe for some districts to open their buildings. 

As school districts throughout the state rush to create their reopening plans, many districts have developed hybrid plans that include some in-person instruction. Chicago and Rockford-area teachers held rallies this month to protest in-person instruction, fearing for their safety amid the pandemic. School districts like Maywood-Melrose-Broadview District 89, Oak Park Elementary School District 97, and Evanston School District 202 have walked back their initial plans and say they will start the school year virtually

In an effort to support local and state educators, the American Federation of Teachers, the second largest teachers union in the country, passed a resolution that will support strikes about educators’ health and safety.

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