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Chicago Teachers Union, Chicago Public Schools Continue Battle Over Return To In Person Learning

CHICAGO (CBS) -- With classes canceled again on Monday, the battle continues between Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Teachers Union on getting students back to school.

CTU has outlined a proposal to get staff back in the building safely and students learning remotely and eventually back in schools.

The CTU wants to reaffirm the metrics from the last round, emphasizing the advantages of regular testing for not only staff but all students, that if you are exposed, you can come back to the school more quickly.

And before they could even finish their press conference, the mayor fired back shooting down their proposal.

The CTU says it had a meeting with the house of delegates, authorizing them to make a comprehensive proposal, which would restart structure, give parents clarity and give a clear date to restart the education process. Its proposal includes enrolling as many students in a screening test program on a weekly basis, across schools in the district.

Staff would be back in the building and students would stay remote, pushing to get remote learning up by late next week. They would get devices out, start testing and start remote instruction on Wednesday, Jan. 12.

CTU suggests members to participate in school building level in contact tracing for student cases, pointing out that parents have made it known they haven't been notified quickly in the past.

"Why don't we get devices out, get the kids signed up for testing and start remote instruction on Wednesday. That's apart of our proposal," said CTU Chief of Staff Jennifer Johnson.

CTU is also asking for high quality masks for not only staff but students as well. CTU says this has been extremely frustrating and they need the mayor's office to meet them halfway.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has already made it clear she's against two things: any kind of across the board testing and any remote learning.

CTU says it is aware, but they say that doesn't make sense. They're offering compromise in one of those areas.

The mayor's response is students need to be back in person as soon as possible and they will not relent.

Chicago Public Schools responded in a press release, saying Saturday afternoon it received the CTU's propsal "toward ending their illegal strike."

"We recognize we are growing closer on many important issues," the release stated. "We're confident that continued negotiations will support the return to in-person learning next week. Students need to be back in their schools, where it's safe, as soon as possible. That's what parents want. That's what the science supports."CPS released a list of responses to the CTU's proposal. Among other things, CPS agreed to provide K95 masks for students and staff, reinstate health screeners required on a school by school basis, and to continue to provide weekly COVID-19 testing for all students and staff.

Proposals CPS rejected include remote learning beginning Jan. 12 and in-person learning Jan. 18. CPS wrote, "CPS is firm that both staff and students should return for in-person teaching and learning as soon as possible. Science supports that the safest place for students is in school."

CPS also rejected the CTU's proposal for district wide remote learning, saying, "CPS is not authorized under state law to satisfy the Union's demand for District-wide remote learning. Remote learning days across an entire district cannot be counted as instructional days."

CPS also said it stands firm that staff who did not work during this period will not be paid

The proposal was sent to CTU Saturday evening, CPS said.

Lightfoot took to Twitter Saturday night TO thank the governor for agreeing to sell CPS 350,000 antigen tests. Gov. JB Pritzker also took to Twitter, saying he is committed to seeing kids and teachers safely in classrooms as soon as possible.

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