CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Public Schools students will soon return to in-person, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Sunday.
The “tentative” deal reached with the Chicago Teachers Union would mean pre-kindergarten, cluster students and kindergarten through eighth grade students would return to classrooms.READ MORE: Mayor Lori Lightfoot Nominates Annette Nance Holt As First Black Woman To Serve As City's Fire Commissioner
However, union leaders say the Mayor’s optimism may be premature. Sunday morning, the CTU said the offer by CPS “merits further review” and still needs to go through their voting process before an agreement is reached.
We do not yet have an agreement with Chicago Public Schools. The mayor and her team made an offer to our members late last night, which merits further review. We will continue with our democratic process of rank-and-file review throughout the day before any agreement is reached.
— ChicagoTeachersUnion (@CTULocal1) February 7, 2021
The Chicago Teachers Union told CBS 2 an Official House of Delegates meeting will be held on Monday, and the measure will be sent to rank and file on Monday night. The voting is expected to take place on Tuesday.
“There is no agreement yet between the Union and the Board of Education. What we have is a framework that all of our members must first review and assess, because it is our members who are being asked to return to school buildings in the midst of a global pandemic,” the union said.
CPS CEO Dr. Janice Jackson said the return to in-person learning will be a gradual transition.
If CTU votes ‘yes’ on tentative agreement:
Pre-K/Cluster – Return Thursday Feb. 11th
K-5th Graders – Return March 1st
6-8th Graders – Return March 8th
Teachers Staff Return
Pre-K/Cluster – Feb. 11th
K-5 – February 22ndREAD MORE: Motorcyclist Killed In Hit-And-Run Crash On Kennedy Expressway
6-8th – March 1st
“We need to give parents options, and that’s exactly what this tentative agreement does,” Mayor Lightfoot said.
Corresponding teachers and staff would return a week earlier than students.
“I’m just happy we have a resolution,” Jackson said.
A joint task force will also be formed to address the issue of safely reopening high schools, but high schools are not presently scheduled to resume in-person learning.
As part of our tentative agreement with CTU leadership, we will form a joint task force to address safely reopening high schools. Unfortunately, HS classes are not currently scheduled for in-person learning. Full update here: https://t.co/OqIpactPSd https://t.co/8rb03cRLPF
— Chicago Public Schools (@ChiPubSchools) February 7, 2021
Jackson said 2,000 staff will be vaccinated this week, and there are plans to vaccinate 1,500 staff members each week through the system’s own vaccination sites, exclusively for employees. Jackson said they are prioritizing vaccinations for employees who requests accommodations due to health issues, including high-risk members of their homes.
Jackson said vaccinations will not be mandated.
The agreement also establishes metrics for a district-wide 14-day return to remote learning, triggered in part by a seven-consecutive-day rise in the city’s COVID-19 positivity rate where the daily rate increase is at least 15 percent higher than the week before.
“For the next 14 days – the incubation period – let’s pause; let’s see where we are and continue to assess,” said Chicago Department of Public Health Director Dr. Allison Arwady.
This development comes after Friday night, Lightfoot and Janice Jackson told the CTU they had made their “last, best, and final offer” in the stalemate over reopening schools.
In a letter sent to CPS parents and staff Friday evening, school district leaders explained that there still was no agreement, and said they were calling on pre-kindergarten and special education cluster teachers to show up to school buildings on Monday unless they’ve been approved to work remotely. They said at the time those who failed to report would be considered absent without leave, and locked out from CPS systems at the end of the day.
The union had said such a move could trigger a district-wide strike, if a majority of the CTU House of Delegates approved one.
If the rank-and-file teachers vote no on the tentative agreement, a lockout and a strike could still be triggered.MORE NEWS: City Colleges Of Chicago Offer New COVID-19 Vaccine Ambassador Course In Effort To Pick Up Pace Of Vaccinations
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