Chicago Public Schools cancel classes for second straight day amid fight with teachers union

Chicago schools close as union backs remote learning

‘Special Report’ panel discuss the union’s actions in response to the omicron surge.

The Chicago Public Schools has canceled classes for a second straight day amid a fight with the teachers union which voted to switch to remote learning because of increasing coronavirus cases.

During a press conference on Wednesday night, Pedro Martinez, the chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools announced that there will be no classes on Thursday.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot accused the Chicago Teachers Union of attempting to hold students’ education “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 during a Wednesday night press conference. 

Mayor Lori Lightfoot presides over a City Council meeting on Oct. 27, 2021, in Chicago. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
(Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Lightfoot responded to a demand from the Chicago Teachers Union that the school district require all “staff, students, vendors, and volunteers” to produce a negative COVID-19 PCR test before returning to in-person learning unless parents opt out, stating that the CPS would not go that route.

“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.

Chicago Teachers Union workers direct cars lined up for COVID-19 testing outside of CTU headquarters on Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021.
(Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

During the press conference, Lightfoot also reiterated that she will not pay teachers for an “unlawful, unilateral strike.”

Lightfoot also revealed when answering a question from a reporter that the city has considered asking a court for an emergency injunction to force teachers back to work, but said that an unfair labor practices complaint has been filed.

On Tuesday, the Chicago Teachers Union voted to switch to remote learning because of increasing coronavirus cases in the area, stating that the union would go back to in-person learning when either coronavirus cases “substantially subside” or the city signs an agreement on “conditions of return.”

In response, the CPS canceled classes on Wednesday and refused to allow remote learning for students.

A sign taped to the front door of Pulaski International School of Chicago reads, School Closed after Chicago Public Schools, the nation’s third-largest school district, said it would cancel classes since the teachers’ union voted in favor of a return to remote learning, in Chicago, Jan. 5, 2022.  Reuters/Jim Vondruska
(Reuters/Jim Vondruska)

A CPS spokesperson told Fox News that on Monday, 82% of staff showed up to work after the holiday break.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Lightfoot said that “hundreds of thousands” of families in Chicago rely on the CPS to keep their kids safe, provide access to food, and educate their children.

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