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Negotiations between city and Chicago teachers union to continue into weekend

The school system, which has canceled classes since Wednesday, said it hoped to have in-person learning again Monday.

“CPS is committed to working toward an agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union throughout the weekend, and we are dedicated to working day and night so we can get our students back to school next week, hopefully on Monday,” the statement said. “We know families need to plan ahead and we will be sending additional communication over the weekend with a status update regarding classes on Monday.”

With classes just having resumed Monday after winter break, the Chicago Teachers Union voted to teach remotely, but the school district canceled classes, saying they want in-person learning.

The union has called conditions for in-person learning unsafe, citing inadequate staffing and testing as new Covid-19 cases and new hospitalizations among children in the city reached record highs.

The district has argued its schools are safe.

Union delegates and city officials have been negotiating conditions to get teachers back in their physical classrooms.

Union President Jesse Sharkey indicated Wednesday teachers might not return to classrooms until January 18 if the stalemate continues. Teachers may return earlier if the surge subsides or the union reaches an agreement with city officials, he said.

The rift between the nation’s third-largest school district and its teachers echoes a debate playing out across the country amid a Covid-19 surge fueled by the Omicron variant: When and how should students return to the classroom?

Meanwhile, seven parents with children in Chicago public schools have filed a lawsuit against the teachers union, calling its actions this week an illegal strike and demanding the teachers return to work for in-person learning.

The complaint is asking for “damages in the form of lost income and the cost of securing childcare while CTU and its members were on strike.”

“The point of our lawsuit is that the union has engaged in an illegal strike, and therefore they have been, they get to be the sole decider of whether kids go to school or not, rather than an engaged community and parents getting their say,” senior attorney Jeffrey Schwab said.

“Obviously if there is a situation where a classroom or a school, it isn’t safe for them to go, I don’t think parents want them to go, but what the union has done in this case is they’ve unilaterally shut down the entire district,” he added.

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