The rest of Chicago Public School students returned to class Tuesday, less than a week before the teachers' deadline to strike.
Both sides agree that something has to give between the first day of school and Sept. 10, when 26,000 teachers and workers could walk out, but there was a stark difference in tone over the holiday weekend between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CTU president Karen Lewis.
The mayor said negotiations are moving along, while Lewis called him a liar and a bully.
"We've had a good discussion over the weekend," Emanuel said in a one-on-one interview with NBC Chicago, "Good, steady progress is being made."
"Our children are not a campaign promise," Lewis said during a Labor Day rally at Daley Plaza. "Our children are not numbers on a spreadsheet."
If an agreement isn't reached before next Monday, Lewis said teachers will walk. The teachers have been working without a contract since June, and negotiations have been slow.
Schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard said "compromise is the word of the day."
"I can't speak for Karen Lewis, but I can tell you that progress has been made over the course of the weekend," Brizard said Tuesday. "We're working very, very hard. A couple of big issues are left for us to come to resolution on, but every single day we're scheduled to meet, and I'm still hopeful we're going to get this thing done before next Monday."
As talks continue, Brizard wants to concentrate on students' first day back. He rings in the new year with J'Marcus Webb at Roberto Clemente Academy Community High School, and Emanuel greets students at Shields Middle School before leaving for the Democratic National Convention.