The Mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, has backtracked on her threats to force teachers back into schools to end remote learning, as the Illinois vaccine programme rolls out.
The decision comes after weeks of faltering negotiations led to the teacher’s union threatening to strike against the Mayor and the district if they were forced back into face-to-face teaching.
Kids were due to go back into school on Thursday of this week before the Mayor backtracked on her decree.
What’s the situation?
The rise in tensions between the Mayor and the school district with the Chicago teacher’s union comes after Mayor Lori Lightfoot threatened to end remote learning and force all teachers to return to the classrooms this week by locking all teachers who refuse to return out of their virtual learning software.
In turn, the union responded by threatening to strike against the order, despite being told that one such strike would be an illegal act.
Up to 50 meetings have taken place between the city and union, and yet an agreement is still to be reached, with the two parties now in a 48-hour “cooling-off” period before negotiations are set to resume.
Teachers are now due back into school on Thursday, whilst online learning will continue as a “gesture of good faith” by the city.
However, the union has numerous demands which the city, so far, haven’t moved on.
Such demands include top priority for teachers for a coronavirus vaccine in order to give them protection going back into the classroom.
Under the Illinois vaccine programme, teachers are not due to be offered a vaccine until the middle of February.
This is unlikely to be accepted, as Mayor Lightfoot has repeatedly insisted that the district has followed every single guideline to ensure that schools are a safe place to learn.
The district also confirmed that they, and the city, have spent more than $100 million on personal protective equipment and other safety measures to make classrooms Covid safe.
Other demands call for the inclusion of more counsellors to help kids on their return to school and less police presence throughout school facilities.
The negotiations remain in a deadlock and the return of kids and teachers to schools for proper, effective learning, remains in the air.