CHICAGO (CBS)– Both the teachers union and Chicago Public Schools held press conferences Tuesday morning, in what is becoming a showdown over remote versus in-person learning.

CPS CEO Dr. Janice Jackson was very direct in saying in-person learning returns next week and teachers are expected back in the classrooms this week to prepare.

“When we open up the schools, which many people see as assets and resources in their community, people will come,” She said. “We cannot sit back and allow a generation to falter because of made up reason about why we can’t do reopening.” 

And Jackson says more than 60% of school-based employees did in fact return the classroom on Monday.

“Once we open our buildings, and students that attend have an opportunity to see that the protocols that we have in place do reduce risk, we know that more parents are goin to opt in and we need to be prepared for that,” Jackson said.

But during Tuesday’s presser, the Chicago Teachers Union maintains the district needs to outline and provide certain guidelines before all teachers feel comfortable returning.

They want CPS to make mass testing available, along with a clear mask policy for when a student doesn’t bring or refuses to wear a mask.

They also want CPS to allow teachers who don’t want to go in the classrooms to work from home.

“Delay the start of school, let the vaccination proceed and then figure out a way to extend school with a robust summer program or an extended year so we can pick up extra instructions later as conditions become safer,” CTU president Jesse Sharkey said.

CTU also says more than two-thirds of Black and brown parents have rejected in-person learning even though the district phrased the need to re-open schools as a way to address inequities in Black and Latino communities.

“The fact that more white families are opting in has noting to do with our responsibility and obligation to make sure that the Black and Latino students in this district get a quality education,” Jackson said.

Still, Sharkey says the union will continue to hold special meetings into the middle of the month.

“If we have to consider a strike authorization vote or something like that,  that’s a a conversation that we’ll be prepared to have with our members,” Sharkey said.

CTU says one of those meetings is Wednesday with its delegates to talk about the state of negotiations.

But as we heard from Dr. Jackson Tuesday, the exception is that teachers return to class. As for consequences if they don’t, Jackson says it will be dealt with on a case by case basis.

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