In-person classes were canceled again Thursday for Chicago Public School students as the battle over school reopening continues between the district and teachers union.
Pre-kindergarten and special education cluster students were given the option to come back to the classroom earlier this month.
The Chicago Teachers Union directed its members to teach remotely on Thursday as they continue to spar with the district over COVID-19 vaccination plans, cleaning protocols, and even which data and science should guide the reopening process.
“We are trying our best to make progress, I think there’s no reason why we can’t have a deal and have our students back in the classroom on Monday,” said CPS CEO Janice Jackson. “I know so many students and parents have expressed how excited they are at that opportunity, so that’s what we’re planning for.”
The CTU has spent the past few months questioning the school district’s reopening timeline, especially as COVID-19 vaccines are not yet available to all teachers.
“What we need is a safe return agreement, and right now we don’t have an agreement,” CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said on “Chicago Tonight” on Monday.
As of Thursday night, a deal to get teachers back in school remained elusive.
“We would have expected by now to make a lot more progress,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot says her administration has met with the CTU more than 70 times since June, and every day for the last two weeks – but hasn’t finalized any of the major issues at hand.
“Of the eight issues that we’ve been talking about now for weeks, we still don’t have agreement on a single one of those issues…which frankly is frustrating and doesn’t make sense,” Lightfoot said.
Kindergarten through eighth grade students were given the option to return to in-person learning on Monday, Feb. 1. But this week, a group of Chicago aldermen asked that date to be pushed back a week, to give the city more time to bargain with the CTU. On Thursday, Jackson and Lightfoot dismissed the proposal.
“We remain steadfast that schools should reopen for students on Monday, Feb. 1,” Jackson said.