This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

CHICAGO — Amid a stalemate between Chicago Public Schools and the city’s teachers union, CEO Pedro Martinez said Wednesday that he has “no choice” but to cancel classes on Thursday, the second cancellation in as many days.

During a press conference Wednesday night, Martinez spoke out after Chicago students failed to enter school buildings. 

“Today, of course, no children in classrooms,10% of our 21,600 teachers coming into our school buildings and a similar percentage of our substitutes coming into our school buildings,” Martinez said.

The Chicago school’s CEO says buildings will be back open Friday for academic instruction, but the extent of that education will depend on the number of staff members who show up for work. As it relates to negotiations with CTU, he says one of the points they do agree on is the need for more testing in schools.

During her remarks, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she is adamant about trusting the medical experts who say schools are safe while urging the teachers union to come to the bargaining table Thursday morning to negotiate. 

The announcement comes after the Chicago Teachers Union said CPS teachers were electronically locked out of the school system after voting to suspend in-person learning late Tuesday night. 

The union on Twitter said they received calls and messages from educators who attempted to log into their accounts Wednesday morning to teach remotely but were unable to do so.

Throughout much of Wednesday, the standoff between CTU and CPS continued.

On Wednesday night, members traveled down Washington Boulevard near Union Park in solidarity with their decision to vote for remote learning before driving collectively to city hall to voice their opinions to the mayor.

According to an announcement from CTU, 73% of members supported the move. The CTU has cited safety concerns regarding COVID-19 cases in schools.

“We are very clear in what we are requesting: safety to stay open,” CTU Vice President Stacy Davis-Gates said.

The CTU vote prompted CPS leaders to cancel class Wednesday, leaving many teachers and parents to make last-minute preparations.

“I was able to reach out to 13 of the 16 of my students and just advise them of some things they can do at home right now,” Gabby Tomilson, a fourth grade CPS teacher, said.

Among the union’s concerns, Davis-Gates says 70% of elementary school students and 50% of high school students are unvaccinated. She says adequate testing and staffing are also major concerns. 

Safe Haven locations for those needing childcare amidst class cancelation

“Our children were being warehoused in cafeterias, auditoriums and gymnasiums. They were doubled-up, tripled-up because our instructors, our paraprofessionals, our clerks, are homesick,” Davis-Gates said.  

Tuesday night, Lightfoot voiced concerns about an impending move to remote learning.

“We saw a three-fold increase in the number of failure rates among elementary school children not only that we heard from parents how disruptive that remote learning was to their lifestyles,” Lightfoot said.

CPS officials say the district is not authorized to make a district shift to remote learning. However, the district has offered a proposal to the union that in part, includes, the possibility of remote learning on a school-by-school basis and 200,000 masks for staff.  

Union leaders say they’re at the table when it comes to bargaining, demanding that the city implement all federal COVID-19 funds and won’t step down until their mitigations are met. 

“We do not have a way of tracking the money. Yesterday our boss, the mayor, said that they have sent $100 million. We got $2 billion,” Davis-Gates said.

The decision came following pleas from top city officials that emphasized the safety of city public schools.

Following Tuesday’s vote, CPS released a statement:

Tonight the Chicago Teachers Union voted to stop reporting to work and given that unfortunate decision, Chicago Public Schools must cancel classes tomorrow, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022.  Despite six months of active, good-faith discussions with the CTU, despite the fact that more than 90 percent of our staff is vaccinated, despite proven and implemented COVID-19 safety measures, and despite little evidence of in-school transmission, our teachers are not willing to report to work. We are deeply concerned about this decision but even more concerned about its impact on the health, safety, and well-being of our students and families. 

Read more Chicago News Headlines here

As the city’s teachers union and school leaders faced off over remote learning, WGN News learned that before the final vote, 88% of the Chicago Teacher’s Union’s House of Delegates voted ‘yes’ in approval of a resolution for CPS students to learn remotely for a couple of weeks, beginning Wednesday.