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Chicago Public Schools To Resume In-Person Classes On Monday, But Not Clear How Many Teachers Will Show Up

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Chicago Public Schools will resume some in-person classes on Monday, but it remained unclear whether teachers will actually show up.

Pre-kindergarten and some special education classes are set to resume in person.

CPS Chief Executive Officer Janice Jackson said Friday that approximately 65 percent of teachers and support staff who were required to return to schools this week to prepare for school reopenings did so, and she expected that number to grow by Monday.

The Chicago Teachers Union wants to stick with remote learning until COVID-19 vaccines are more widely available.

CTU Director of Communications Chris Geovanis said he could not say how many teachers would be coming in on Monday because records are not kept of who goes in and who continues to work remotely each day. But Geovanis wrote: "Our rank and file members have a contractual and a legal right to safe working conditions – which CPS has failed to provide. Members continue to notify their supervisors that they will continue to work remotely until their workplaces are safe."

Geovanis said the union is holding a series of actions on Monday, including educators who will teach outside their schools.

Jackson said any teachers and staff who defy the district's requirement to be in schools on Monday will lose out on paychecks.

"Throughout the week, we have sent clear messages to those who have chosen not to attend work," Jackson said last week. "Those individuals will be deemed absent without leave, and they will not be eligible for pay going forward. This is not a measure that we take lightly, and it can be avoided if staff chooses to return to school. We believe we've done every single thing within our power to ensure a safe return to school."

Some teachers pushed back on Jackson's threat to halt pay for staff who don't show up as expected on Monday, accusing the district of bullying teachers.

Jackson and Mayor Lori Lightfoot have defended plans to begin reopening schools on Monday, despite objections from the CTU.

The CTU has proposed reopening schools only if the city's average positivity rate is below 3 percent, and the city is reporting fewer than 400 new cases per day. However, CPS and Chicago Department of Public Health officials have said positivity rate is not the best metric to use for decisions on reopening, and the district has said they will only halt plans to reopen schools if cases in the city are doubling fewer than every 18 days. As of Thursday, cases in Chicago are doubling every 82 days, according to CDPH.

Meanwhile, Mayor Lightfoot on Sunday extended the city's stay-at-home advisory until Friday, Jan. 22.

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