Chicago mayor orders teachers to be in the classroom this week

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools CEO Dr. Janice Jackson on Sunday insisted that teachers should return to the classroom on Monday amid the heated situation between CPS and the union representing thousands of educators over the debate of resuming in-person learning amid the coronavirus pandemic

Chicago Teachers Union has been telling teachers to stay remote, out of concern for safety during the pandemic. Therefore, the Chicago Public Schools said adequate staffing cannot be assured, so students will still be learning remotely on Monday — with the expectation that students in pre-kindergarten, special education, and kindergarten-through-eighth grade students should be returning to in-person learning on Tuesday, according to CBS Chicago.  

The mayor said all pre-K to eighth grade teachers are to return to the classroom on Monday, unless they have received a special accommodation. If they don’t comply, “we’re going to have to take action,” Lightfoot said, but didn’t elaborate.

Lightfoot said multiple times on Sunday that “our schools are safe” and told the leadership of the union needs to return to the bargaining table. The mayor also said that “remote learning is failing too many of our kids” and accused the CTU of lacking a sense of urgency in having students return to in-person learning.

“We absolutely need to get a deal done,” she said. She pledged that she and her team would stay up all night until a deal has been reached.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot: “We expect all of our teachers who have not received a specific accommodation to come to school tomorrow.” She continued, “Those who do not report to work, and I hate to even go there, but we’re going to have to take action” https://t.co/haB4cyWrqx pic.twitter.com/1bxoj3xyof

— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 1, 2021

Jackson said that without an agreement between CPS and CTU, access to the remote-learning programs offered through Google Suite will be cut off starting at the end of business on Monday.

Lightfoot said that the public school system and the union have had 70 formal meetings since June. The mayor also described the model for safe in-person learning follows guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Illinois and Chicago departments of public health, and is supported by health experts from Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as well as local health officials.

“Our schools are safe. Our schools are safe. We know that because we have studied what’s happened in other school systems in our city — 40,000-plus Archdiocese, charter, and other public schools that have had some form of in-person learning since the fall,” Lightfoot said.

According to CBS Chicago, CPS and the CTU on Saturday reached tentative agreements on four areas: health and safety protocols, ventilation, contact tracing, and health and safety committees. 

On Sunday, Lightfoot said there has been $100 million in investments to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at its schools, including health screenings, temperature checks, hand sanitizer, PPE, disinfecting, social distancing and contact tracing.

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