Chicago schools, Lightfoot send teachers union 'last, best and final offer' for reopening

Mayor Lightfoot and CPS leadership announced Friday that their "last, best, and final offer" is currently on the table as they work to come to an agreement with the teachers union over the safe reopening of schools during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The development was revealed in a joint statement issued by Mayor Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice Jackson one day after the mayor made an impassioned plea to the union to strike a deal immediately as students suffering from "failing grades, depression [and] isolation... cannot afford to wait any longer." 

"Yesterday afternoon, we received a counter proposal from CTU [Chicago Teachers Union] leadership and responded with our last, best, and final offer," the statement said. "We expect a response from CTU leadership today. We will be making further statements later today about school on Monday." 


CPS originally planned on welcoming K-8 children back for in-person learning this past Monday but has kept pushing back that date, as the union has instructed teachers to continue working remotely during negotiations. 


"Our goal is, and has always been, a mutually agreed upon safe reopening plan for our schools," the Chicago Teachers Union said Thursday. "These decisions, however, cannot be made unilaterally in a vacuum. They require buy-in from all stakeholders in our school communities, and we will continue to lift democracy in soliciting feedback from educators and families in bargaining for the safe return that our students deserve." 

On Friday evening, in a letter to CPS staff, CPS leadership said pre-k and cluster teachers and staff without an approved accommodation or pending ADA accommodation will be required to report to classrooms on Monday. Pre-k and cluster teachers and staff who fail to report will be deemed absent without leave (AWOL) and access to CPS systems will be terminated at the close of business Monday.

CPS also proposed the following timeline for reopening:

Pre-K and Cluster Programs: 

  • Monday, February 8: Teachers, and staff return  
  • Tuesday, February 9: Students return  

 Kindergarten — Grade 5:

  • Tuesday, February 16: Teachers and staff return 
  • Monday, February 22: Students return  

 Grade 6 — Grade 8:

  • Monday, February 22: Teachers and staff return 
  • Monday, March 1: Students return  

Additionally, CPS leadership says that staff with vulnerable household members will have access to the vaccine beginning Monday. If they choose to be vaccinated in the next two weeks, these staff members can continue to work remotely for up to 14 days after their first dose.

CPS leadership said CTU members who decline to take the vaccine and want to remain home can take an unpaid leave of absence with full benefits. They also said 5,000 accommodations have already been granted for staff who are either medically vulnerable or a primary caretaker of a vulnerable family member.  

FOX 32 News contributed to this report.

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