Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has apparently reached her wits’ end with the Chicago Teachers Union, which threatened to boycott a return to in-person teaching due to the coronavirus pandemic, in contradiction to scientific health advisories provided by the CDC and other public health organizations.
On Thursday, Lightfoot expressed her frustration at the union, whose members pushed negotiations on whether they would return to in-person instruction into another day, effectively delaying the start of classes for yet another week.
Lightfoot’s speech, broadcast live on Chicago news channels on Thursday morning, demanded that teachers arrive at a deal with the Chicago Public Schools.
“Enough is enough,” Lightfoot said, noting “failing grades, depression, isolation” among students, whom she says “cannot afford to wait any longer.”
“We are ready to welcome our students back,” Lightfoot stated. “Frankly, they have been ready for some time.”
“We’ve extended ourselves beyond measure,” she added, citing a $100 million investment in creating socially distanced classrooms. “We need our kids back in school. We need our parents to have that option. It should not be that CPS parents are, of all the schools in our city, the only ones that don’t have the option for in-person learning. It cannot be that a public school denies parents that right.”
“And let me emphasize again, remote learning works for some, it absolutely doesn’t work for everyone — not by a long shot,” she said.
The Chicago Teachers Union has rejected almost every effort to reopen schools to in-person teaching, and is now demanding that all teachers receive vaccinations before children are allowed to return to classrooms. According to the Daily Wire, one document outlining the union’s stipulations even calls on teachers who are living with “vulnerable” individuals to be allowed to work from home indefinitely.
Lightfoot said that the city's public school system has already invested millions in ensuring the safety of teachers and students. Thus far, those investments have proven to be effective, she said.
“Let me remind you of the over $100 million dollars in mitigations that CPS has invested in our schools to make them safe. They have included: ventilation, testing, health screenings, face coverings, enhanced cleaning, and other in-school safety measures,” she said. “CPS had three weeks of successful implementation of these mitigation plans in our schools, that was until the CTU blew up and created chaos that we are now enduring.”