Lightfoot calls Chicago Teachers Union walkout 'illegal'

Chicago Mayor Lori LightfootLori LightfootChicago students protest for virtual learning, COVID-19 stipends School infrastructure is a children's human rights issue — it's time the US acknowledges that The Hill's Morning Report - Biden champions filibuster reform, but doesn't have the votes MORE on Sunday said the Chicago Teachers Union walkout is “illegal.”

“What the Chicago Teachers Union did was an illegal walk-out. They abandoned their posts and they abandoned kids and their families,” Lightfoot told moderator Chuck ToddCharles (Chuck) David ToddBlinken: State Dept tracking US Embassy personnel in Kyiv 'very, very closely' Sanders says Biden can't count on him to support 'almost any' spending package compromise Fulton County DA requests special grand jury in Trump election investigation MORE on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Chicago Public Schools closed for a third straight day on Friday amid a protest by city teachers. The teachers union is embroiled in negotiations with the school district regarding COVID-19 safety protocols.

The union is advocating for remote learning and instructed teachers not to report to the classroom on Wednesday, but school administrators are instead canceling classes and holding instruction online.

The walkout has affected roughly 350,000 students.

The push by the teachers union comes amid a surge in COVID-19 cases nationwide, driven in part by the highly transmissible omicron variant. Illinois set a new record for daily COVID-19 infections late last month.

Asked by Todd if students will return to the classroom this week, Lightfoot said “I'm doing everything I can to make sure that happens.” She said her team is “working diligently every single day” in negotiations to narrow the differences between the two parties and strike a deal.

The mayor then laid out the reasons why in-person instruction is safe for students and why the classroom is an ideal place for young people to be amid the COVID-19 surge.

“We know that the safest place for kids to be is in-person learning in schools. And we've spent hundreds of millions of dollars to make our schools safe. They are safe. We've got the data to demonstrate that,’ Lightfoot said.

“We've got to get the teachers' union to get real and get serious about getting back into in-person learning,” she added.