Chicago Public Schools students won't return to the classroom for a fourth school day Monday unless a breakthrough occurs in negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union, according to a district spokesman.
In a statement, CPS said its "dedicated to working day and night so we can get our students back to school next week, hopefully on Monday," adding it will provide parents a "status update" over the weekend.
Classes were canceled for a third straight day Friday as the district and union continued to dispute whether remote learning should resume amid the latest surge in COVID cases caused by the omicron variant.
Negotiations are set to continue over the weekend 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.
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On Friday, a group of parents represented by the Liberty Justice Center filed a lawsuit against the CTU, calling this week's school closures an "illegal strike" and demanded teachers return to school for in-person instruction.
"...CTU cannot unilaterally decide what actions should be taken to keep public schools safe, completely silencing parents’ input about what is best for the health, safety, and well-being of their children," Jeffrey Schwab, senior attorney at the Liberty Justice Center, stated, in part.
CPS, meanwhile, filed a labor complaint, charging that the CTU illegally directed its members not to report to work as directed, but to work remotely until Jan. 18 or when CPS meets certain health metrics.
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.
As Bloomberg News reported, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has asked the Biden administration for COVID-19 tests to help resolve the ongoing dispute.
Pritzker didn't specify how many tests he requested but explained he connected the district to officials from the White House.
“Parents are suffering, children are suffering when they can’t get back in school and I understand teachers need to be safe in school as kids are,” he said. “The parties need to come together and find common middle ground and I have not yet seen that but I am hopeful.”