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Chicago Teachers Union, Parents Express Concern As Students Return To School Monday Despite Surge In COVID-19 Cases

CHICAGO (CBS) – With the Secretary of State closing their offices and schools in Cleveland going fully remote for the first week back after the break -- Chicago's top educator says he's comfortable bringing kids back Monday.

As CBS 2's Chris Tye reports, some parents aren't comfortable with the CPS approach.

While none of the results of that mass testing effort are back yet, CPS CEO Pedro Martinez is confident cases will be high, but kids will be safe coming back Monday.

There are no changes to his back-to-school approach in Chicago, even as the teacher's union and some parents feel the surge should trigger a change.

Photos took professional photographer Lorena Paredes took of her family this holiday -- but these are the images of the season she'll remember most.

"It was really crazy to see."

Even though her daughters' COVID test made it inside the FEDEX dropbox under a sea of tests Tuesday — she's skeptical test results will have value since they were taken before New Year's Eve parties.

"It was a waste of time for many families because I honestly don't think they are accurate," Paredes said.

She says the district should pause the re-start of school and retest after New Year's Eve gatherings.

The head of the district says no.

"I feel very comfortable starting on the 3rd. As I said earlier, we are going to take a very conservative approach.," Martinez said.

Conservative because 37,000 PCR tests are currently being processed. CPS CEO Martinez has plans to move schools with case spikes to remote learning.

"More aggressive than most other big districts in the country."

In Washington D.C., the surge in cases led to extending winter break by two days and every student needs proof of negative Test To Enter.

On Thursday, the Chicago Teachers Union is "demanding that necessary mitigations, including a negative COVID test for students, be in place to ensure safety for everyone in the school community on January 3."

The district rejected that demand.

As families watch the new year bring in old concerns.

"It's very scary. I want to make sure my family is protected," Paredes said.

The teacher's union had a metric that if cases hit a certain number, schools would close. That policy expired last August.

Conversations on how to keep their members safe are moving quickly -- unclear if this is a topic they might strike over.

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