Chicago Public Schools Returning to Classrooms: Teacher’s Union Strikes Deal

by Liz Holland
(Photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images)

Students of Chicago Public Schools (CPS)  will return to classrooms on Wednesday after an agreement has been reached. Lori Lightfoot, Chicago Mayor announced in a tweet Monday, “After a productive day at the bargaining table, I am pleased to report, CTU will end their work stoppage. CPS put a great proposal on the table that both bargaining teams discussed in detail today. We will be able to get our children back in the classroom on Wednesday.”

After a week-long standoff, a proposal for CPS schools to resume in-person learning has been approved by the Chicago Teachers Union’s House of Delegates.  

This week, the union’s teachers refused to teach their classes in person. This refusal prompted the last four days of school to be canceled. Delegates voted to discontinue this strike. Teachers will report to school on Tuesday for planning purposes before classes resume on Wednesday. 

Chicago Teachers Union Reaches Agreement for Chicago Public Schools

The plan approved by the House of Delegates also sets clear conditions/guidelines for which a school would need to return to remote learning. The guidelines used in the plan to determine if a school should return to remote learning are based on the rate of staff absences, as well as students in quarantine or isolation. Additionally, it would take into account if it’s during a period of high community COVID-19 transmission. Under this circumstance, the threshold would be lower. 

This particular measure is expected to move to a union rank-and-file vote this week. 

During a news conference about the issue, Lightfoot praised both her team and in-person learning. She previously rejected the teachers’ unions’ suggestion for a return to remote learning. She thanked parents for their support. “We can never forget the impact on the lives of our children and their families. They must always be front and center,” Lightfoot said. “Every decision has to be made with them at the forefront.” She clarified that there are no winners or losers in the dispute, adding “No one wins when our students are out of the place where they can learn the best and where they’re safest.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot Is Frustrated About the Disruption

She explained that no one was more frustrated with the issue than she. “That’s why I said early on, ‘Enough is enough.’ This was not necessary to happen. … Three work stoppages in three years? Of course, people are frustrated.” Lightfoot is referencing a 2019 strike from CTU teachers, as well as a similar incident last year when CTU teachers voted to refuse in-person learning. 

She added, “I’m hopeful this is the end, at least for this school year.”

The plan includes proposals to secure more N95 masks for staff and students. 

CTU President Jesse Sharkey said of the deal, “It was not an agreement that had everything, it’s not a perfect agreement, but it’s certainly something we can hold our heads up about, partly because it was so difficult to get.”