Chicago Public Schools

CPS Working on Response to Counter Proposal from CTU as In-Person Learning Debate Continues

Negotiations continue as Chicago Public Schools leaders works on their latest response to a counter proposal from the Chicago Teachers Union

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice K. Jackson announced Thursday they are working on a response to a counter proposal from the Chicago Teachers Union as both sides continue negotiations over the return to in-person learning.

A brief statement released by the two leaders Thursday afternoon is the latest from CPS as the back-and-forth continues between the district and teachers union.

“Late this afternoon, we received a counter proposal from CTU leadership and we are working on a response,” the statement read.

Late Thursday evening, CTU announced its leaders will hold a press conference on Friday and offered an update on negotiations.

“Bargaining continued Thursday between the Union and CPS leadership, which continues to reject using CDC health metrics, refuses to allow educators with medically vulnerable household members to continue to teach remotely, as two-thirds of families have chosen, and refuses to make improvements in remote learning, despite months of pleas from parents, students and educators,” the statement read.

Earlier on Thursday, Lightfoot said discussions had moved "backward" as she blasted the union in a news conference, while the union claimed in a letter to parents that the mayor and district "mocked" them for raising needs of families "beyond the classroom."

"Despite a series of productive exchanges between CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union leadership on Monday and Tuesday that should absolutely have led to a comprehensive agreement yesterday, we are deeply disappointed to announce that we still have not reached a deal," Lightfoot said, adding, "Yesterday there were a series of steps backward."

CTU circulated an open letter to parents ahead of Lightfoot's news conference, saying the battle was about safety and that the mayor and district "have unilaterally tried to impose a plan to return educators and students to in-person learning without involving our members, principals, students or parents."

CTU said CPS "for a long time refused to bargain regarding its reopening plan" and that the district's initial proposals "lacked many of the basic safety elements found in other school districts, like COVID testing and contact tracing, health and safety metrics, and protocols for the inevitable school closures that will result from reopening buildings without control of community spread."

The union said that it was only after teachers voted last month to take collective action that CPS "showed some urgency."

"We cannot return to in-person instruction until we have made more progress with the district on CDC-based health metrics, allowing educators with medically vulnerable family members to continue to teach remotely, and addressing real equity needs for the vast majority of our students," the union said.

CPS announced late Wednesday that students would continue with remote learning on Thursday, with no agreement reached with the CTU. Friday was a previously scheduled non-attendance day, giving the two sides a few more days to negotiate.

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