The Chicago Public Schools and the city's teachers union became one closer to ending their in-person learning dispute Saturday as, according to city officials, both sides reached tentative agreements on four key issues.
The four issues were said to be health and safety protocols, ventilation, contact tracing as well as health and safety committees.
"There is still significant work that needs to be done on the remaining several open issues," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Dr. Janice Jackson said in a joint statement issued in the early evening. "We must make additional, meaningful progress today and tomorrow as time is running out."
Lightfoot previously said testing, accommodations for staff, revised closing metrics and vaccinations were other important issues.
Even though the two sides have yet to reach a consensus, CPS plans to move forward with reopening classrooms for elementary and middle school students Monday. However, the Chicago Teachers Union has said its members will continue to partake in remote learning, setting up the possibility of a strike.
At a late Friday night news briefing, Lightfoot voiced frustration that the CTU refused to put verbal agreements in writing.
The mayor also asked students and families to prepare for a scenario in which the CTU directs its members to not return for in-person instruction.
"If that were to happen, that would of course be a crushing blow to our students and to CPS families," she said.
In a statement, CTU said Lightfoot's "disruption of bargaining derailed negotiations on Friday."
"Unfortunately, rather than build on the progress that has been made between our Union and the Chicago Public Schools bargaining team, Mayor Lightfoot is disrupting every possible settlement, compromise or partnership," the union said in a statement. "The educators in the room were close to reaching an agreement. The boss stepped in at the 11th hour and blew it to pieces."
CPS asked parents of both pre-K students and students in cluster programs to keep their children home Wednesday through Friday as a result of the CTU's vote to switch back to all remote learning during negotiations.
Lightfoot and CPS leader Dr. Janice Jackson have both said that it is safe for teachers and students to return to classrooms with safety protocols in place and the promise of COVID-19 vaccinations on the horizon.
The union has pushed back on those assertions, saying that there have been enough coronavirus cases reported in the district since pre-K and cluster students returned to classrooms that they are justified in seeking a return to remote learning until educators can be vaccinated against the virus.
Thousands of elementary and middle school staff and teachers were expected to return to schools this week, with an estimated 71,000 students scheduled to join them on Monday.