Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot reversed course on threats to lock Chicago Public School teachers out of remote learning. The decision comes after teachers threatened to strike against the Mayor and school district, who both insist teachers return to classroom learning.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Lightfoot announced that the city and school district will continue negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union while remaining remote. Lightfoot called the decision to allow teachers to continue remote learning “a gesture of good faith.”
In a joint statement with the school’s chief Janice Jackson, Lightfoot told the Sun-Times that the district and the union “secured agreement on one other open issue and made substantial progress on a framework that we hope will address the remaining issues.” The negotiating parties are in a “48-hour cooling off period” that will hopefully result in a final resolution.
Classes will remain online until Thursday to allow more time for negotiations.
The Daily Wire reported:
Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot has ordered Chicago’s public school teachers to return to classrooms this week, ending these school district’s months-long virtual learning system, but the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) says that, if they are forced to return to work, they will call a strike, even though they are currently bound by a contract and a such a strike would likely be illegal.
Lightfoot said in an interview Monday that CTU refused to reach a deal with the school district during negotiations over the weekend, promoting the district to push the start of in-person learning back to Tuesday. But, the mayor added, if a deal cannot be reached, teachers who refuse to return to classrooms will be locked out of their virtual learning software.
The continued negotiations for in-person learning have stalled yet again, despite more than 50 meetings between the city and the union. The union has nixed every school reopening plan to date.
The union has emphasized its list of demands, which call for the district to prioritize teachers for the coronavirus vaccine. Under the Illinois coronavirus vaccine plan, most teachers will not be vaccinated until mid-February. Other demands include more counselors and fewer police officers as well as more money towards personal protective equipment. The district and city have already spent more than $100 million on masks, ventilators, personal protective equipment, and other classroom safety measures.
In an interview with MSNBC, Lightfoot insisted the district and city have followed every guideline to allow for in-person learning.
“Our schools are safe … All the things that you would expect that the CDC guidance has told us that we know makes sense to mitigate any issues in schools,” Lightfoot said. “We’ve looked at and followed every study across the globe, including her win Chicago, by our local experts.”