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In Chicago, A Teachers' Strike Could Threaten Fall Sports Season

By guest blogger Gina Cairney

The Chicago Teachers Union has set a strike date of Sept. 10, which may affect the approximately 11,000 students participating in fall sports like football, soccer, and softball on public school teams, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Officials from the Chicago Public Schools sent a letter to the Illinois High School Association requesting a waiver from rules that bar students from participating in extracurricular activities in the event of a strike, according to the Tribune.

If students are prevented from participating in varsity sports during the strike, it could "result in CPS forfeiting critical games, and potentially jeopardizing playoff and championship opportunities for our students," the district's Chief of Staff Robert Boik writes in the letter.

The letter also asks the IHSA to clarify whether teams can continue to hold practices with a certified coach present. About 90 percent of certified CPS coaches belong to the union, according to a CPS press release, and are prohibited from participating in athletic practices under the CTU bylaws.

IHSA has received the waiver request, Matt Troha, the organization's assistant executive director, wrote in an email. The board of the directors will discuss the matter when it meets Sept. 10, the first work day that the strike could occur. The union filed its strike notice Aug. 29, but must wait 10 days before a walkout is authorized.

CPS did send parents contingency plans with information about programs that would still be available if the strike does occur. They don't, however, include school athletics.

In the event of a strike, varsity games and practices would be cancelled, according to the press release, but:

* 145 schools would remain open for a half-day
* Non-CTU members and organizations can submit a request for proposals to help school staff and provide activities
* Breakfast and lunch will be served to all students
* Additional options will be provided through other community organizations like Chicago Park District to extend summer camps

Craig Anderson, the IHSA administrator in charge of football, told the Tribune that there is no known precedent for this kind of request to the organization.

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