CHICAGO – The standoff between Chicago Public Schools and the teacher’s union continues. The big question – will there be school Monday and beyond?
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Sunday evening, “out of fairness and consideration for parents who need to prepare,” classes would be canceled Monday. The mayor said talks between both sides persist, but not enough progress to suggest a return to class come Monday.
Monday will be the fourth consecutive day Chicago has canceled classes for students.
The news comes following the latest offer by the teacher’s union proposing a start to remote learning beginning Wednesday, Jan. 12.
Lightfoot rejected that proposal outright Saturday afternoon and talks resumed Sunday.
In an appearance on Meet the Press, Lightfoot spoke about the ongoing stalemate.
“Are kids going to be in school this week in Chicago? Oh, I’m doing everything I can to make sure that that happens,” Lightfoot said. “And to be clear, what the Chicago Teachers Union did was an illegal walk-out. They abandoned their posts and they abandoned kids and their families.
“Fundamentally, what we cannot do is abandon the science. We know that the safest place for kids to be is in-person learning in schools. And we’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars to make our schools safe. They are safe. We’ve got the data to demonstrate that. We’ve got to get the teachers union to get real and get serious about getting back into in-person learning.”
The third-largest school district in the country remains adamant that students need to be in the classroom.
Under the union’s proposal, in-person instruction would begin after the Martin Luther King holiday.
The union wanted all students and staff to be tested for COVID-19 before returning to school but later conceded. The union says remote instruction is better than no instruction and has the resources.
“I would like to see more testing. I am in agreement with the CTU on that,” said Commissioner of Chicago’s Health Department Dr. Allision Arwady. On Sunday, Arwady spoke with concerned parents via Zoom, reiterating that CPS never encountered COVID-19 outbreaks across an entire city classroom.
Some parents say their patience is wearing thin, however.
“Just saying kids are better off in school, I don’t think anyone is saying they aren’t. But we’re talking about learning loss. You can’t learn if you’re dead,” Rachel Clark, a CPS parent, said. “Is remote learning imperfect? Yes. Do I hate this? Yes, I do. Do I think this is the best thing to take a short pause right now? Yes, I do.”
In a letter to teachers Saturday, a CTU field representative scolded members who have returned to the classroom despite the union’s position. The CTU field representative said that the act is creating a divide among the union, promising that there will be consequences.
Teachers at Mount Greenwood Elementary are defying the union and plan to have school on Monday.