CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Public Schools students on Friday were heading into the weekend facing another day of possible canceled classes Monday – while city officials said talks with the teachers’ union “must be concluded this weekend.”

Late Friday, CPS released the following statement:

“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. 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.”

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But earlier Friday, CPS sent a notice to principals saying classes would be canceled for a fourth day on Monday. But CPS said the decision to cancel may be reversed if an agreement with teachers is reached.

In a joint statement late Friday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS Chief Executive Officer said: “Bargaining sessions continued today and went into the evening. The sessions remain productive but must be concluded this weekend.”

As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported, CPS students have already missed three days of classes after the Chicago Teachers Union voted to work only remotely amid the current COVID-19 surge. Afterward, teachers were locked out of their virtual classrooms.

Talks between CPS and the CTU continued late Friday, but there had been no update as of the late afternoon.

Meanwhile, principals citywide were scrambling late Friday to see if they would have enough staff to offer educational activities of any kind Monday. Before the notice of classes being canceled went out, some schools already announced that they would not be holding classes on Monday – including Roald Amundsen High School and Lane Tech College Prep. Amundsen said there will still be opportunities for “in-person enrichment activities” Monday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Meanwhile, others are looking to the courts to force a solution. Legal actions are flying as the more than 300,000 CPS students continue to sit out of class and wait.

The latest legal action was filed by the conservative Liberty Justice Center on behalf of Chicago Public Schools parents – asking a judge to force teachers back.

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This came as teachers gathered outside one Chicago school, standing firm and saying a safety plan is needed before they will return to the classroom.

“We demand that students have masks – KN95, at least – to be in these schools,” a teacher said. “We also demand that we work in a safe environment.

While both sides continued to talk, they have also filed dueling complaints with the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board. The district claims the remote-only vote means the union has “breached the collective bargaining agreement,” while the union counter-filed Thursday, claiming a lockout also violates the contract.

Some state lawmakers are even weighing in, signing a letter supporting a safe return to schools.

“I’m not taking sides with the CTU or with the Board of Education,” said Illinois state Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago). “It’s about the students.”

We have also confirmed that Gov. JB Pritzker’s office has offered the school district masks, tests, and vaccine help. But so far, the city has not responded to the offer.

“If the governor made that offer, the city needs to take it up,” Collins said.

The School Board is requesting the Education Labor Relations Board expedite a hearing to discuss forcing teachers back to the classroom. But on Friday afternoon, a spokesperson for the board said the matter will not be reviewed until Jan. 31.

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So the issue hinges on the continued talks for now.

(this story/news/article has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed)



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