CHICAGO (CBS) — After a week of negotiations between the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public School over teachers and students returning to in-person learning, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Friday night that no deal has been reached.
An upset Lightfoot said there is no deal tonight because, she claims, CTU intentionally sabotaged negotiations. However, Lightfoot said she still expects teachers to be at school Monday morning or CPS will take action.READ MORE: Suspect Shot, Wounded By Police On Lower Wacker Drive; 2 Others Taken Into Custody
“It is our expectation that they will show up. Their students are going to be there. They should be there,” Lightfoot said.
In a statement Friday night, CTU said they were close to reaching an agreement, but “Mayor Lightfoot is disrupting every possible settlement, compromise or partnership.”
“We will continue working toward an agreement, but we need real progress in critical areas. We need a phased-in return tied to voluntary vaccination; baseline testing for students and staff; and accommodations for educators whose household members are at higher risk of COVID-19 illness and death,” the statement said.
Over the last week, Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union have been in talks to negotiate a safe return to the classroom. In-person learning for K-8 is set to begin Monday, February 1.
The CTU said it’s not safe, especially for those who haven’t gotten their COVID vaccine. The district said its buildings are cleaned and sanitized for the safety of students and staff.
Friday was day three for all CPS students having to stay home for remote learning. Pre-K and some special education cluster students had been able to return to in-person classes for the past few weeks, and Lightfoot said Friday night that those students have been safe.
“Three weeks of successfully implementing school safety plans that included safety and health protocols, ventilation, contact tracing, testing, accommodations, and much more,” she said. “Three weeks of success, which is precisely why the CTU leadership blew it up and created chaos.”
But the district told those teachers to stay home on Wednesday after CTU rank-and-file teachers voted to defy an order from CPS to return to in-person instruction.
The union has insisted its decision is about safety, adding teachers need to at least have access to a COVID-19 vaccine before returning to the classroom, but it’s a decision that’s also affecting thousands of CPS parents.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Brief Warm Up Is On The Way, Snow Showers Return
A spokesperson for CTU said the bargaining team went in at 11:00 Friday morning but that its members will continue to teach remotely until they reach an agreement that meets CTU’s safety requirements.
Friday morning, CTU members reiterated their stance in a Zoom call.
“CPS’s plan is not really a plan, and it’s passing the buck onto schools, principals, and communities to figure out how they’re going to solve things like what does everybody eat? How do you create enough space and divide the space? How do you keep the schools clean? The schools didn’t have enough custodians to maintain their schools clean before the pandemic,” said K-5 technology teacher Jose Frausto.
“I’m standing strong, because I do my job 100% every day Monday through Friday from the safety of my home, because I chose safety. This anxiety is real, but this virus is real as well,” said school clerk Deanna Myron.
Many CTU members were locked out of their email and remote teaching tools when they refused to go back to classrooms earlier this month.
Two weeks ago, several teachers held a “teach-out” in front of the home of Chicago Board of Education President Miguel del Valle, conducting remote classes.
Meantime, on Friday morning a group of faith leaders said they agree that students shouldn’t go back until it’s clear all schools are safe. They said now is not that time.
“It is a moral issue. While CPS is claiming that school open is about equity, when we look at the facts that Black and Brown families – who are the hardest hit by the COVID-19 infections and deaths – are keeping their children at home,” said Rev. Robert Jones, pastor at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church.
A relief agency is partnering with CPS to provide personal protective equipment, or PPE. World Vision handed out the items Tuesday morning to schools with low-income families and the most vulnerable children. The kits include Lysol wipes, hand sanitizers, masks, and social distancing stickers.
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