Lightfoot appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday morning and called for teachers to return to the classroom for in-person instruction despite the rise in COVID-19 cases.
“We know that the safest place for kids to be is in-person learning in schools,” Lightfoot said. “We’ve got to get the teachers union to get real and get serious about getting back into in-person learning.”
—Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) January 9, 2022
Lightfoot said the union’s refusal to teach in person in the current conditions, which resulted in school officials canceling classes last week, qualified as an “illegal walkout.”
A CTU spokesperson did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
The standoff began last Tuesday when the teachers union voted to refuse to teach in person until additional safety measures to combat the recent COVID-19 surge, driven in part by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, were implemented.
Between January 2 and 8, some 2,396 students and staff tested positive, according to data from Chicago Public Schools.
“They abandoned their posts and they abandoned kids and their families,” Lightfoot said on Sunday. “We are working diligently every single day at the bargaining table to narrow the differences and to get a deal done.”
The union said instructors intended to teach classes remotely, but several said they were locked out of their accounts, the Chicago Tribune reported. Some parents have since filed a lawsuit against the union, calling their actions an “illegal strike.”
—Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) January 8, 2022
The CTU on Saturday said they had proposed a compromise calling for a week of virtual learning with in-person instruction to resume on January 18. They also called for additional KN95 masks and PPE and an automatic transition to virtual learning if the city’s 7-day positivity rate spikes in the future.
“Still, within a matter of minutes of the press conference ending, the mayor rejected (the) compromise,” the CTU said in Saturday’s statement, referencing a tweet from Lightfoot on Saturday that said, “We will not relent.”