Chicago Public Schools remain closed Monday as teachers union continues COVID-19 holdout

Mayor Lori Lightfoot rejected the union's most recent proposal over the weekend

Updated: January 10, 2022 - 10:25am

Chicago Public Schools remain closed Monday for the fourth consecutive school day amid tense negotiations continue between the powerful teachers union and city authorities over COVID-19 health-safety issues.

On Sunday evening, Democrat Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned parents that schools would be closed.

"We will continue to negotiate through the night and will provide an update if we have made substantial progress," she tweeted.

On Wednesday, the Chicago Teachers Union told instructors not to report to work as part of a negotiation tactic to push for a transition back to remote learning because of the surge in virus cases resulting from the emergence of the Omicron variant. The school district, however, opted to cancel classes instead, making it clear that there is no desire to play ball with the union at this point.

Lightfoot has called the union walkout "illegal" and said that teachers are "abandon[ing] kids and their families."

"I'm doing everything I can to make sure" children return to classrooms this week, Lightfoot said on Sunday. 

The teachers union proposed, over the weekend, a plan to make classroom instruction remote beginning Wednesday until January 18, if officials committed to enacting even more COVID-19 safety precautions. Lightfoot promptly rejected the deal.

Over the course of the pandemic, billions of dollars in government aid have been dolled out to schools across the country in an effort to give them the necessary tools to take appropriate COVID precautions. 

While the Omicron variant of the virus is spreading at a far more rapid rate than previous variants, deaths due to COVID remain lower than during previous surges. It is also being widely reported that Omicron causes less severe symptoms than previous versions of the virus.