Teachers in Chicago will continue providing instruction remotely as city leaders and union officials work to reach a deal to return educators to the classroom following coronavirus-induced closures.
"We continue to teach remotely because of our members’ unity, their commitment to their school communities, and their fearless solidarity," Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey said in a statement on Monday. “Our members’ resolve on the ground allowed us to make real progress at the bargaining table today on a number of the most difficult issues of this negotiation."
Chicago mayor Lori LightfootLori LightfootChicago teachers to 'step up resistance' if school district doesn't improve COVID-19 protections Chicago becomes latest city to require vaccinations for workers 2 brothers charged in fatal shooting of Chicago police officer MORE granted the Teachers Union and city leaders a two-day "cooling off period" during negotiations but said teachers will keep access to the Google suite they use for online instruction.
The union said it interpreted that move as a hopeful sign of good-faith negotiating after threats of a lockout by the district.
“We don’t want a lock-out," Sharkey said. "We want to keep working remotely as we bargain an agreement to return to our classrooms safely. And we’re one step closer to that goal today, because management has agreed to stay at the table rather than escalating conflict or locking out educators."
Teachers and more than 60,000 students were expected to return to in-person instruction on Monday as part of the city's phased reopening plan, but union officials have refused to go back to in-person learning, citing ongoing public health concerns.
“None of this is easy," the union said. "The uncertainty and risk our educators, our students and our families confront all take a toll. And all of the progress we’ve made to date in winning real gains at the table is possible because of the tireless work and dedication of our rank and file members, our delegates, our parents, our allies, and ordinary Chicagoans who trust us to do what’s right by our schoolchildren."
Lightfoot said in a statement on Monday she was pleased with the progress of the negotiations.
"We have secured agreement on one other open issue and made substantial progress on a framework that we hope will address the remaining issues," she said.