CPS, CTU still without deal; Lightfoot said in-person learning will resume Monday as planned

Saturday, January 30, 2021
Still no deal between CPS, CTU for in-person learning, Lightfoot says
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There is still no deal between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union as of Friday night.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There is still no deal between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union as of Friday night as the district tries to reopen in-person learning for some kindergarten through 8th grade students on Monday.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said that while the district and union leadership agree on some items of contention in principle, but that union leadership has refused to put those agreements in writing and instead has added more items to the negotiating table that are not related to the public safety issues related to reopening some classrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The mayor said that CPS is still planning to open in-person learning for the students who signed up for it on Monday, and that she expects CPS teachers to show up to their classrooms to each those students. If they do not, she said she would be forced to take further action but did not specify what that action would be.

Lightfoot said she and the city remain at the negotiating table and will stay at the table through the night if necessary.

The CTU responded in a tweet, saying simply, "We don't need closing arguments. We need leadership."

They continued in another tweet, saying, "Nope, nope, nope. We were well on our way, working toward an agreement around all key components with the people who are actually at the bargaining table (much like what's happening the other cities). In the last hour, the mayor has wrecked it all. Those are the facts."

In a statement they added, "Unfortunately, rather than build on the progress that has been made between our Union and the Chicago Public Schools bargaining team, Mayor Lightfoot is disrupting every possible settlement, compromise or partnership. The educators in the room were close to reaching an agreement. The boss stepped in at the 11th hour and blew it to pieces. We will continue working toward an agreement, but we need real progress in critical areas....We have a willing partner in the CPS team. But CPS needs a willing boss."

CTU said earlier Friday while there has been some progress in talks, several issues are holding up an agreement.

Among them, the CTU said CPS has rejected adopting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention health metrics to determine if schools can reopen safely. They also want a phased reopening of schools as teachers get vaccinated and weekly rapid testing of teachers and students and accommodations for teachers with health issues and those that are caring for a loved one with health issues.

RELATED: In-person learning during COVID pandemic is possible with the right precautions, CDC researchers say

If no deal is reached Friday, they plan to work on it through the weekend.

CTU members picked up signs at their headquarters, preparing for the possibility of being locked out as things remain unsettled.

Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady hosted a virtual meeting with doctors with connections to CPS on social media, all of whom are supportive of the plan to have in-person learning for kindergarten through 8th grade on Monday.

CPS CEO Janice Jackson pointed out that other schools have been able to restart in-person learning without so much back and forth, and said a resolution is needed. CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates insisted the union is not looking to strike.

"We are not talking about a strike," she said. "Our members voted collectively for a remote work action. So, I want that to be clarified. No one, no one, our members they want to teach. It's not if we reopen, it's how we reopen."

Mayor Lori Lightfoot weighed in Thursday on "Chicago Tonight."

"In the last week alone, we've given them two different comprehensive plans. One plan, which we updated, and we've given them, I think that covers every single issue," Mayor Lightfoot said. "So we're serious, and we're going to remain at the table, but we've got to see some progress, a seriousness of purpose on the other side."

WATCH: CPS CEO Janice Jackson gives update on negotiations

The CTU said progress is being made on cleaning protocols, masking and ventilation that could lead to a deal.

Educators have voted to remain remote until there is an agreement, but the mayor is steadfast on getting K through 8 students back in classrooms on Monday.

RELATED: CPS parents express frustration, concerns amid battle between CTU, district over students returning to classrooms during COVID

Both sides agree that a strike would be devastating.

WATCH: CTU Executive Board member Quentin Washington weighs in on CPS negotiations

The roughly 355,000-student district, which turned to full-time online instruction last March because of the pandemic, has gradually welcomed students back. Thousands of pre-kindergarten and special education students resumed in-person learning earlier this month, and teachers who didn't return to their classrooms were punished.

CPS teachers were all eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday, but they are not scheduled to begin getting it until February.