CHICAGO (WLS) — For the third day in a row, Chicago Public Students were not in class Friday. But Mayor Lori Lightfoot expressed optimism that a deal can be worked out with the Chicago Teachers Union to reopen schools.

The Chicago Teachers Union continued to push for more masks and more testing as the bargaining efforts continued Friday afternoon.

Some CPS parents said that they have been notified by individual schools that classes have been canceled on Monday.

Meanwhile, parents and students are hoping that the negotiators reach a deal to get kids safely back in school.

At Morgan Park High School, students were coming in, not for classes, but instead to pick up care packages with essentials, including Chromebooks in case students can’t return to schools and have to resume e-learning.

“My hope is that we actually go back to school, so they’re just giving us this little care package, just to say that they actually care about our health and that they care about our safety, too,” Morgan Park student Markel Chaplain said.

When asked if she had any confidence kids would be back in school on Monday, Morgan Park parent Dee Stallion said, “I doubt it. If they’re giving us a Chromebook it’s no school on Monday. It’s school at home.”

While most schools remained closed, at Mt. Greenwood Elementary, the principal opened the school for parents who needed a safe haven for their children due to work or other schedule conflicts.

Katie Rondeau stopped by to get material for her second grader and was grateful she and her husband work opposite shifts and can manage the situation.

“I wish they would have figured this out before the kids went back to school,” Rondeau said. “They had two weeks of a break to figure this out and they waited till we were back in school for two days and then waited until midnight so that parents didn’t know what the deal was.”

And she’s not alone. An online petition with more than 3,000 signatures is pushing for CPS to return to in-person learning and not go remote.

And a group of state lawmakers from Chicago signed a letter urging the safe return to in-person learning for students, while not taking sides in the dispute.

Lane Tech allowed students to come to the building for a short time for activities.

The principal sent out a note to families preparing them for next week too, saying the high school will be open for in-person activities Monday, Wednesday and Friday for tutoring, gym opportunities and even board games.

Parents are still in limbo as the Chicago Teachers Union and school officials continue their negotiations.

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CTU argues with COVID cases on the rise, keeping kids and staff inside school buildings is not safe.

“When we came to school this Monday, I saw five times the number of students in quarantine,” said CPS teacher Jackson Potter. “We saw staff members getting ill, we saw lower attendance. This wave was already making a large impact, and we weren’t ready for it.”

Mayor Lightfoot, speaking on MSNBC, said talks are productive and there could be an end in sight.

“Well, my hope is that we’re going to get a deal struck here in the next day or so,” Lightfoot said. “It gets our kids back in school in person learning in a deal that covers the duration of the school year and we don’t have any additional disruptions.”

As for parents, some said they understand the frustration felt by teachers, but they just want their kids back in class.

“It stinks to be at home,” said CPS parent Doug Davis. “It stinks to be remote. I don’t really want them to be remote, my son went thru that last year as a freshman. It was a hard experience. Luckily he had sports but I think for a lot of kids, it’s really, really, tough and just going into school is great but I want them to really be learning things.”

Teachers are demanding all students and staff be tested as a condition to return to their buildings before the January 18 date agreed to in their vote earlier this week.

The union also wants KN95 masks, or those of similar quality, for all students and staff, as well as a return to last year’s agreed upon thresholds for a move to remote learning, including a 10% or higher test positivity rate.

“Our teachers, our parents, our students, we all want to be safe in school,” CTU organizer Linda Perales said. “The mayor can make that happen by stepping up and meeting out demands and ensuring safety.”

Also on Friday, some parents filed a lawsuit against CTU accusing them of an illegal work stoppage. The union denied that anyone has stopped working, and characterizes this as a lockout.

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Source: ABC7

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