March 4, 2021

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Union approves deal with Chicago schools to return to class – POLITICO

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The first wave of students, in pre-K and special education, are due back Thursday. Other students in K-8 will return in the coming weeks for limited classroom instruction. No plans have been set for high school students, who’ll continue with online learning.

Talks over resuming classroom instruction since going fully remote last March have been heated. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot had warned teachers that they would be locked out of district systems if they didn’t report for duty. The union countered by threatening to strike.

Chicago Public Schools officials have insisted it is safe to have classes in person with protocols in place, like wearing face coverings and a $100 million safety plan that includes thousands of classroom air filters. District officials and Lightfoot has said remote instruction is leaving many behind, particularly Black and Latino students who make up the majority of the roughly 340,000-student district.

The union contends the district’s plans falls short in protecting teachers and that not enough students have been interested in returning to fully staff more than 600 schools. The union previously voted to defy orders to return to classes and continued teaching remotely.

Early parent surveys showed about 77,000 students were interested in returning to classes. When in-person school briefly resumed last month for special education and pre-K students, student attendance was roughly 19% of those eligible.

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