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Monday marks the fourth straight day CPS students have been out of class. Mayor Lori Lightfoot spoke confidently all weekend about reaching a deal, but no agreement has been reached despite both sides negotiating overnight.
Mayor Lightfoot and CPS CEO Pedro Martinez released a joint statement Sunday night saying, “Out of fairness and consideration for parents who need to prepare, classes will be canceled again Monday. Although we have been negotiating hard throughout the day, there has not been sufficient progress for us to predict a return to class tomorrow. We will continue to negotiate through the night and will provide an update if we have made substantial progress.”
UPDATE: Classes are currently canceled for all CPS students on Monday, January 10, but we remain committed to reaching an agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union as soon as possible. Please review this letter for more information on our district’s plans. pic.twitter.com/S5zzu06CnF
— CPS – Chicago Public Schools (@ChiPubSchools) January 10, 2022
CTU gathered with city leaders and parents Monday morning at Spry Elementary to highlight some of the issues on the table.
“I want a healthy community where my families can know that they are safe in sending their kids to school,” said Michael Rodriguez, 22nd Ward alderman.
What are main sticking points between CPS, CTU?
The union’s hope was to start remote learning on Wednesday, with the goal of returning to in-person instruction on January 18. That’s something Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS are not on board with.
“She’s being relentlessly stubborn,” CTU president Jesse Sharkey said. “She’s relentlessly refusing to seek accommodation and we’re trying to find a way to get people back in school.”
CPS said it would allow remote learning on a school-by-school basis, but not to the union’s standards.
“They’re saying three quarters of students of a school would have to be out sick before we can use it,” Sharkey said.
Appearing on “Meet the Press on Sunday, Lightfoot said, “This walkout by the teachers union, which is illegal has had cascading negative ripple effects not only on the students and their learning, and their social and emotional welfare, but also on the families themselves.”
Spry Elementary in Little Village has seen the worst of the COVID surge, as the union said 15 of 18 classrooms there have at least one infected student.
“Mayor, please remember your promise,” said Joanna, Spry Elementary School parent. “You promised this city is going to be the future for my son… just keep your promise.”
Other parents in the district are ready for negotiations to wrap up so kids can get back to class.
“I think my kids’ education is being hurt by it,” said parent Adam Solovy. “I don’t think kids should be on a computer for eight hours a day.”
Some schools are open Monday for students that have nowhere to go during the school day.
CTU’s proposal also requests that CPS randomly test at least 10% of the student and staff population every week at every school. That program would allow students to opt-out. The proposal would also require CPS to pause in-person learning for 14 days and transition fully to remote instruction citywide if the COVID-19 test positivity rate in Chicago increases for seven consecutive days, remains at 15% higher than the rate from one week prior for each of those days and reaches 10% or greater on the seventh day.
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CTU members also requested that any school with 25% or more of its staff out due to COVID-19 cases or exposures for two consecutive days will be transitioned to remote learning. For schools with 100 or more employees, a transition to remote learning will take place if those cases reach 20%.
They also introduced rules for remote learning if student exposures reach certain percentages. Elementary schools would transition to remote learning if more than 30% of students are instructed to quarantine or isolate. High schools and departmentalized middle school programs would go remote if more than 25% of the total student population had received such instruction.
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