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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a “best and final” negotiation offer to teachers Friday in an urgent bid to reopen schools.
Along with Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson, Lightfoot has implored the teachers union to agree to return to school buildings for weeks.
Citing “failing grades, depression [and] isolation,” city officials have argued that the reopening of schools has become increasingly urgent.
“Yesterday afternoon, we received a counter proposal from CTU leadership and responded with our last, best, and final offer,” read a joint statement from Lightfoot and Jackson.
The union has pushed back against efforts to return to schools, citing ongoing health concerns related to the coronavirus crisis.
Lightfoot has repeatedly delayed fuller school reopenings after staunch union resistance — including strike and walkout threats.
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The teachers’ union has instructed members to only work remotely until a resolution is reached.
“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.”
Tensions escalated Thursday after Lightfoot passionately pushed teachers to return to classrooms.
“It cannot be so, that a public school system denies parents that right,” she said. “And let me emphasize again, remote learning works for some, it absolutely doesn’t work for everyone – not by a long shot.”