coronavirus illinois

Chicago Public Schools Students Return to Class Wednesday

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Chicago Public Schools students will return to classrooms on Wednesday after five consecutive days of classes were canceled during a standoff between officials and the city's Teachers Union.

The discussions centered around new COVID protocols in schools, with teachers voting to return to remote-learning due to concerns about increasing coronavirus cases.

The district, which flatly rejected online class and said it was disastrous for students, responded by locking teachers out of online platforms, docking their pay and canceling classes in the roughly 350,000-student district.

Ultimately, the two sides agreed to a deal on Monday, with teachers returning to classrooms Tuesday to prepare for the return of students.

Under provisions of the agreement, the district will expand COVID-19 testing and have standards to switch schools to remote learning under a hard-fought tentative deal approved by teachers' union leaders.

The talks also resulted in the district buying KN95 masks for students and teachers, boosting incentives to attract substitute teachers and allowing teachers unpaid leave related to the pandemic.

The tentative deal didn't include two key provisions the union wanted: Metrics to prompt district-wide remote learning and assurances that union members wouldn’t be punished for failing to report to schools.

The union’s house of delegates approved the deal by 63%, lower than the 80% who voted a week earlier to teach remotely.

Union President Jesse Sharkey acknowledged it “wasn’t a home run,” a day before some 25,000 rank-and-file members were due to start voting on the deal. Voting was to end Wednesday.

NBC Chicago/AP - Associated Press
Contact Us