There is no agreement with Chicago Public Schools on comprehensive testing for students and staff, remote teaching for educators with family members at risk, improvements to remote learning or phased reopening tied to vaccinations as Mayor Lightfoot remains intent on forcing thousands of educators and students back into buildings on Monday.

CHICAGO, Jan. 29, 2021—The Chicago Teachers Union issued the following statement today in the wake of another day and evening of bargaining that has failed to produce an agreement on a safe return to reopening classrooms.

“Unfortunately, rather than build on the progress that has been made between our Union and the Chicago Public Schools bargaining team, Mayor Lightfoot is disrupting every possible settlement, compromise or partnership. The educators in the room were making significant progress toward reaching an agreement. The boss stepped in at the 11th hour and blew it to pieces.

“We will continue working toward an agreement, but we need real progress in critical areas. We need a phased-in return tied to voluntary vaccination; baseline testing for students and staff; and accommodations for educators whose household members are at higher risk of COVID-19  illness and death. School districts around the country, in Montgomery, Ala., Memphis, Tenn. and Colorado have all embraced the priorities we are lifting up at the bargaining table.

“There are willing partners on the CPS bargaining team. But CPS needs a willing boss.

“We’ve been promised repeatedly that CPS’ reopening plans are about equity. But it makes no sense to lock out 100 percent of our students when 80 percent of families are keeping their children remote. That’s the opposite of equity. We need a negotiating partner that appreciates every stakeholder in this school district — the educators at the table, the parents who CPS continues to ignore, and the grassroots groups that are pleading for safety in a city that has consistently put their safety dead last.

“In 2013, Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed 50 schools that anchored Black families and Black communities for generations. In 2021, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is intent on opening schools to 10 percent of the student population — disproportionately white families from affluent communities — while remote learning for Black and Latinx students becomes secondary.

“If this is equity, then we need a new definition of equity.”


The Chicago Teachers Union represents more than 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third-largest teachers local in the United States. For more information please visit the CTU website at