“Nobody is more frustrated than me,” said Lightfoot in a press conference on Monday evening. “That was not necessary. And I’m glad that we will hopefully leave that behind and look ahead, but at some point it will be enough … I hope that this is over for at least this school year. “
The potential deal, according to a draft proposal, would result in the members of the working group returning to schools on Tuesday, although face-to-face classes would not start until Wednesday.
Despite the recent breakthrough in the negotiations, Chicago Teachers Union officials were still angry with the mayor.
“This mayor is unsuitable to run our city. She is on a one-woman kamikaze mission to destroy our public schools, “said CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates in a separate press conference Monday evening. “It should never have gotten this far. We had to take a long-range face-covering operation in the middle of a pandemic. We had to take a long-range action to run further tests in the middle of a pandemic. She fought us every step of the way. “
The White House has insisted schools stay open amid the surge in Covid. But districts across the country had a challenging start to January as an unprecedented number of teachers and staff tested positive and campuses were understaffed. Just like airlines canceled flights last month and restaurants temporarily closed for lack of healthy staff, some counties are closing schools because they don’t have enough teachers as Omicron is spreading rapidly.
Most closings were made by government order, but not as a result of industrial action. Lightfoot and CTU had an unusually bitter relationship during the pandemic that fueled the Chicago shutdown.
According to union and administrative sources, two main issues that have slowed negotiations down are determining the scope of the testing – whether parents can choose to have their children tested at school – and a blueprint for closing individual schools, and in the event of one Switch the Covid-19 outbreak to distance learning.
The pending deal would oblige the school system to secure the resources needed to weekly test at least 10 percent of a randomly selected group of students at each school for Covid-19. Students would have to agree to take the tests, and school staff, including nurses, would be assigned to increase the county’s testing capacity.