Teachers bundled up against the cold, windy day to send a message to the district as the Chicago Teachers Union continues to face off with district officials over the return of in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We have more than 370,000 Americans dead from COVID-19 and we have a mayor that is adding a mandatory stay-at-home order in place, yet that order does not apply to teachers, students and schools," said Quentin Washington, a music teacher at Sadlowski Elementary.
RELATED: Chicago Public Schools pre-K, special needs teachers return to classroom; some teach outdoors citing safety concerns
Washington joined other teachers on a Zoom call Tuesday morning after they said the district threatened to dock pay for staff if they do not show up to class.
"No one is saying that we do not want to go back into the buildings," Washington said. "The mayor and her Board of Education are trying to paint a picture that teachers do not want to go to work. We are working. We are working harder now than ever before."
CPS CEO Dr. Janice Jackson told ABC7 the district has spent over $100 million to prepare schools for in-person learning.
"We expect teachers to return to the classroom," Jackson said. "There is no reason for teachers to teach anywhere except in the classroom or the other places that have been identified by the district."
The district said that 145 CPS teachers were absent without official leave.
RELATED: CTU remains in opposition to CPS plan less than 1 week before some students return to in-person learning
in response, CTU has claimed that many of the teachers who did show up found the COVID-19 protocols lacking.
"The buildings were not cleaned. Teachers found rooms that were not fully cleaned since March. There was not clarity on the procedure of what it would be like to welcome students back into the building. There was no all staff meeting," said Jenny Delessio-Parson, a CPS teacher.
RELATED: Mayor Lori Lightfoot, CPS defend in-person learning plan with students set for classroom return
Some teachers also said they were locked out of their online learning portals.
"CPS is causing chaos to the students because they want to force us back into unsafe working environments," said Linda Perales, a CPS teacher.
While only about 6,000 students returned Monday, another 71,000 are expected to return Feb. 1 as grades K through eight are also given the choice to go back into classrooms.
Elgin District U-46 students return to classroom
Students in Elgin District U-46, the second-largest school district in Illinois, returned to the classroom Tuesday morning.
Students from pre-school through 6th grade are starting a hybrid learning plan. The superintendent said remote learning is not meeting the academic and social needs for students.
The district said roughly half of their pre-K through 12th grade families chose to stay fully in remote learning while the others wanted hybrid.
In-person instruction for 7th through 10th grade students whose families wanted hybrid learning will begin Jan. 19. In-person learning for 11th and 12th grade students will begin January 25.