Chicago Public Schools: 1st week open since March has been 'great,' CPS CEO says

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It's been one full school week since Chicago Public Schools reopened for this first time since March.

"As I reflect on this week, I think it's been a great week," CPS CEO Dr. Janice Jackson said.

"Great" is not how the Chicago Teachers Union describes it. As pre-K students and children with special needs return, the union continues its public campaign against the district's reopening plan. CTU continues to bargain with the union over its demands, but time is ticking. K-8 teachers are expected to return to schools buildings on January 25.

"In the last few days, I've had better conversations, but we are really getting down to the 11th hour, we need an agreement," CTU President Jesse Sharkey said.

The union wants teachers who were locked out because they refused to return their classrooms reinstated. They are also demanding set criteria for when schools close based on outbreaks.

"We have to have these discussions at the bargaining table," Jackson said. "You can't have them on social media or a protest."

Jackson said this week over 70 percent of teachers required to return showed up. She is hopeful the district can come to agreement before K-8 teachers come back,

"We have to do it safely," Jackson said. "We are willing to compromise and figure out how to do that. What we won't compromise on is the fact that students need to be in school."

Jackson said at this point, parents must have the option for in-school learning.

But it's not just the union that is against returning to school buildings. Dozens of community-based organizations sent the mayor and CPS an open letter Friday urging them to keep schools remote until the positivity rate is lower and teachers are vaccinated.

While Jackson said she is pushing for a city plan to vaccinate teachers as soon as possible, it is full steam ahead with the reopening plan. K-8 students return for a hybrid schedule on February 1.
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