Chicago Public Schools will cancel classes district-wide for a third consecutive day on Friday as a standoff continues over whether to return to remote learning during a surge in COVID cases caused by the omicron variant.
CPS officials had said that they were hoping to allow some schools to return to in-person instruction on Friday, but instead, classes will remain canceled for all students, according to a letter sent to parents.
“Our schools are the best, safest place for students to be during this pandemic, and we are working tirelessly to get everyone back in class every day,” CPS said in a statement.
Officials said that parents should not plan to send their children to school, but said that a small number of schools may offer in-person activities if enough staff members report to work. Those schools will alert parents to such offerings on a case-by-case basis, officials said.
Negotiations remain ongoing between CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union after teachers voted to return to remote learning earlier this week. The move, criticized as an “illegal work stoppage” by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, led officials to cancel classes altogether for the last three days.
The union says that not enough is being done to keep teachers and students safe amid a surge in COVID cases, and is calling for additional testing and other protocols to be put into place before educators will return to the classroom.
CPS has pushed back against criticisms from the union, saying that they have spent millions of dollars on safety, and that a full return to remote learning is unnecessary despite the rapid rise in COVID cases.
Lightfoot said Wednesday that the city has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, but said that officials would prefer to reach a new safety agreement with teachers through collective bargaining, rather than through legal action.