CTU says deal still not reached with CPS as high school students set to return in 1 week

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago Teachers Union said negotiations with the school district over in-person learning for high school students have not reached a solution.

High school teachers and staff report for in-person work Monday.

CPS wants high school students to return to classrooms next Monday. However, the teachers union said they have not reached an agreement on that return.

The union said its members could start working remotely on Wednesday if there is no deal by then. Talks are expected to continue.

The union's news conference begins at 7 a.m.

"Tens of thousands of high school students and their families are counting on us to open high school classrooms in one week, and we are firmly committed to making that happen. Productive discussions with CTU continued throughout the weekend, and we have general alignment on a set of key topics including safety protocols to keep students and staff safe and scheduling models that will be tailored to the needs of each school. We hope to reach an agreement as soon as possible to ensure a smooth transition for our high school students and families," said Michael Passman, Chief Communications Officer for CPS.

CPS and CTU met throughout the weekend and will continue to meet Tuesday.

According to CPS, there are a number of topics the two sides have aligned on including scheduling models schools will use and safety protocols to keep students and staff safe in high school buildings. CPS and CTU also agreed that high school staff will be able tot work remotely on Wednesdays, which is a remote day for all students. CPS said it will work to support vaccinations for students when they are eligible and doses are available.

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The Chicago Teachers Union is asking CPS to delay the return of high school students to in-person learning one week to address concerns about COVID spread among younger people.

The Chicago Teachers Union is asking Chicago Public Schools to delay the return of high school students to in-person learning one week to address concerns about COVID spread among younger people.

Partial in-person learning is set to resume on April 19, but the union is concerned about the rate of infections among the younger population, which continues to increase.

"It's critical, we believe, that there be some plan for vaccinating high school age students, who are in many cases eligible for the vaccine, and their family members," said CTU President Jesse Sharkey.

RELATED: CPS sets date for high school students to return to classrooms; Chicago Teachers Union pushes back
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Chicago Public Schools just announced that high schoolers will soon have the option to return to in-person learning, but the CTU said school officials have not yet reached an agreement.

In addition, teachers said, finding the right scheduling breakdown between in-person learning and at-home instruction is crucial to maintaining safety.

"We can't have 2,000 kids running through the buildings trying to grab their lunch. Trying to get to class. We have to keep that six foot space. So we have to do two days a week," said Eden McCauslin, teacher at Taft High School.

RELATED: Chicago mayor slams CPS vaccine provider for misallocation of COVID-19 shots

According to a recent CPS survey, only 44% of responding parents want their high schoolers to return to in-person learning.

Jackie Herigodt got her first dose of the vaccine Tuesday, and is now desperately trying to get one for her daughter Bella, who at 17-year-old will not be eligible to get one until the day she's set to return to Lincoln Park High School.

"It just doesn't make any sense to me, considering they're supposed to go back to school April 19 as a CPS student, and I'm not going to send her unless she's vaccinated," she said.

"My friends, I haven't been able to see at all. It sucks, a lot. But hopefully soon," said Bella Dunagan.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said high schools will re-open as agreed upon by the district and teachers union several weeks ago.

"I see no basis for delay, and it's my expectation that we're going to be opening high schools as indicated by CPS," she said.

Even as negotiations over scheduling continue, CPS said they are already working on a plan to prioritize vaccines for students over the age of 16.
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