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Chicago fight with teachers union stretches into 2nd week

Chicago fight with teachers union stretches into 2nd week


Chicago fight with teachers union stretches into 2nd week

CHICAGO — Chicago school leaders canceled class a fourth day in the nation’s third-largest district as negotiations with the teachers’ union over remote learning and other COVID-19 protocols failed to produce an agreement over the weekend.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez said in a joint statement Sunday evening that there wasn't “sufficient progress" in talks to resume in-person classes Monday, extending disruptions into a second school week. But they vowed negotiations would continue “through the night.”

The district, which deems the fight an “illegal walkout,” said late Saturday it will allow more incentives for substitute teachers, provide KN95 masks for all teachers and students, and that Illinois will provide about 350,000 antigen tests. But both sides remained at odds on key issues including COVID-19 metrics that will lead to individual school closures and compensation. The district said it won't pay teachers failing to report to schools, even if they tried to log into remote teaching systems. The union doesn't want any of its roughly 25,000 members to be disciplined or lose pay.

District leaders had said some schools, where enough staff showed up, may offer instruction Monday even without an agreement; all buildings have remained open for meal pickup. However, only a handful of principals anticipated having staff to open.

School leaders have touted a $100 million safety plan, which includes air purifiers in each classroom. Also, roughly 91% of staff are vaccinated and masks are required indoors.

Since the start of the academic year, some individual classrooms have temporarily switched to remote instruction when there are infections. But in rejecting a widescale return to remote learning, city health officials argue most students directed to quarantine because of possible classroom exposure don’t get COVID-19. The district is piloting a “test to stay” program to cut isolation times.