Chicago Cancels Classes for Fourth Day as Standoff with Teachers Union Continues

Chicago students are no closer to returning to school after the city announced Monday would mark the fourth day without classes amid the clash with the Chicago Teachers Union over in-person instruction.

In a tweet late Sunday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that in “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,” Lightfoot tweeted. “We will continue to negotiate through the night and will provide an update if we have made substantial progress.”

City officials and union representatives spent the weekend accusing each other of causing the stoppage in media interviews and public statements. The union insists that in-person classes are not a safe option due to high numbers of COVID-19 cases caused by the omicron variant and are trying to force city public schools to shift to exclusively remote classes.

In a Sunday appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, Lightfoot called the union’s actions “an illegal walkout” and said teachers “abandoned their posts, and they abandoned kids and their families.”

The Chicago Teachers Union announced a proposal to the city over the weekend that would have moved classes online at least until Jan. 18. Union President Jesse Sharkey dismissed criticism of remote learning as a “talking point.”

“I hear the mayor say that she doesn’t want to do remote,” Sharkey said in a Saturday press conference. “But honestly, that’s just a talking point. It’s an idea — ‘remote is bad.’ Remote education is a tool.”

In a Saturday tweet, Lightfoot accused the union of “not listening,” adding that “the best, safest place for kids to be is in school.”

Lightfoot and city officials had previously filed an unfair labor practices complaint against the union over its refusal to teach in-person classes and had locked teachers out of online classrooms.

Jeremiah Poff is an education reporter for the Washington Examiner. 

This article originally appeared in the Washington Examiner. 

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