CHICAGO - The Chicago Teachers Union spent the weekend at the bargaining table with Chicago Public Schools about when and how to resume school, but late Sunday night, the district officially canceled classes on Monday, Jan. 10.
In a statement released Sunday night, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez said: "Out of fairness and consideration for parents who need to prepare, classes will be canceled again Monday. Although we have been negotiating hard throughout the day, there has not been sufficient progress for us to predict a return to class tomorrow. We will continue to negotiate through the night and will provide an update if we have made substantial progress."
The stalemate between CPS and the CTU – sparked by COVID safety concerns – is now entering its second week, with both sides digging their heels in.
"What the teachers' union did was an illegal walkout. They abandoned their posts and they abandoned kids and their families," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a national news interview on Sunday. "We are working diligently every single day at the bargaining table to narrow the differences and get a deal done."
After five days at the bargaining table, CPS and the CTU remain without a deal as we head into Monday.
"I’m going to be on the side of parents, fighting every single day to get our kids back in school," said Lightfoot.
While both sides have agreed on a handful of items, they remain deadlocked on remote learning and testing.
Governor J.B. Pritzker announced over the weekend that he's providing 350,000 rapid antigen tests to CPS.
"What we need is the support of our school nurses who the union has not allowed to be activated on the front lines of this fight," said Lightfoot.
It was that comment about school nurses that sparked a fury of tweets from the union Sunday evening, including one tweet that read in part: "What the mayor doesn’t seem to understand is how dire the nursing situation is in schools….We have been short staffed all year."
"As a parent, I stand strongly behind the CTU," said Sonja Hammond, CPS parent.
Hammond, who has two children at Park Manor Elementary School, said she believes children should go remote until all students can be tested. The mayor and CPS officials are standing firm that they won't require COVID testing and are not on-board with district-wide remote learning.
"I don’t think schools are safe," said Hammond. "The kids need to be tested, why not test the kids and help the teachers, because if there’s no teachers there to teach our kids because they are catching the virus, then what else are they going to do."
The standoff started last Wednesday. Some parents have filed a lawsuit, trying to end the walkout.
CPS said that 91% of staff are vaccinated.
Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, joined parents Sunday evening over Facebook Live to discuss COVID safety in schools.
On Monday, some schools will be open to students for in-person activities, but CPS is urging parents not to drop their children off at school buildings unless they hear directly from their principals.