Chicago Public Schools have canceled classes for a fourth straight day after the teachers union voted to refuse to teach in person.
Chicago is the nation’s third largest school district, responsible for roughly 350,000 students.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the cancellation in a series of tweets on Sunday evening, adding that negotiations would be continuing throughout the night.
We will continue to negotiate through the night and will provide an update if we have made substantial progress.
— Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) January 10, 2022
The union claims that they are concerned about a lack of safety protocols in place in schools and have demanded to go to virtual instruction for the next two weeks. A 73 percent majority of their 25,000 members voted for the switch. The city has refused to comply with their demands, and placed teachers on no-pay status.
Lightfoot called the teachers union’s walkout “illegal,” during an appearance on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, adding that they “abandoned kids and their families.”
Lightfoot was also firm in her statements about the union last week, accusing them of taking the education system “hostage.”
“I will not allow [the Chicago Teachers Union] to take our children hostage. I will not allow them to compromise the future of this generation of CPS students. That is not going to happen,” Lightfoot said.
One of the demands from the union is mandatory COVID testing for students, which Lightfoot said will not happen because it is “morally wrong.”
“We are not going to rob parents of their right and their obligation to tell us if they want testing or not on their children. It’s not going to happen. It’s morally wrong,” Lightfoot said.
The union posted on Twitter last Wednesday that “the action will end when one of the following conditions is met: The current surge in cases substantially subsides, or the mayor’s team at CPS signs an agreement establishing conditions for return that are voted on and approved by the the CTU House of Delegates.”
The action will end when one of the following conditions is met: The current surge in cases substantially subsides, or the mayor’s team at CPS signs an agreement establishing conditions for return that are voted on and approved by the the CTU House of Delegates.
— ChicagoTeachersUnion (@CTULocal1) January 5, 2022
“To be clear: Educators of this city want to be in buildings with their students. We believe that classrooms are where our children should be,” the union tweeted on Wednesday. “But as the results tonight show, Mayor Lightfoot and her CPS team have yet to provide safety for the overwhelming majority of schools,” their thread continued.