While school districts nationwide have faced similar concerns due to increasing COVID-19 cases, the labor fight in union-friendly Chicago amplified concerns over remote learning and other pandemic issues.
The deal approved late Monday would have students back in class on Wednesday and teachers back a day earlier. It still requires approval from the union’s roughly 25,000 members, with voting scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. Chicago Teachers Union spokesperson Ronnie Reese confirmed the goal to bring students back on Wednesday, even as the vote proceeds.
Neither side disclosed full details of the proposal Monday evening, but leaders generally said the agreement included metrics to close individual schools during outbreaks and plans to boost COVID-19 testing in the largely low-income Black and Latino school district of about 350,000 students.
“We know this has been very difficult for students and families,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said during a news conference. “Some will ask who won and who lost. No one wins when our students are out of the place where they can learn the best and where they’re safest.”