COVID-19 vaccines for teachers, a key to reopening schools, comes down to location – and luck

More than 3,200 pre-K and special education students returned to classrooms in mid-January for two weeks, but those classes shifted online last week amid an impasse in negotiations between the union and City Hall.

Since Jan. 9, the district has reported 124 actionable cases of COVID-19, according to officials.

“We successfully opened school at the beginning of this year,” Jackson said. “We’re now trying to get to a place where we can reopen schools, and those plans are being thwarted for reasons that don’t hold up under scrutiny.”

Lightfoot said she had a “cordial and productive” phone call with CTU President Jesse Sharkey on Sunday. She called on the union to return to the bargaining table Sunday night.

“If it takes us staying up all night, let’s get it done, but we need CTU coming back to the table,” Lightfoot said. “We are practically begging CTU to come to the table so we can get a deal done.”

Lightfoot and union officials saidthey have reached an agreement on four key issues: health and safety protocols, ventilation, contact tracing and safety committees.

“Those things are a sign of progress,” Sharkey said at a virtual press conference Sunday night. “We’re stuck on some hard issues.”

The outstanding issues include telework accommodations for teachers with immunocompromised household members, a public health metric that would guide school reopening, vaccinations for educators and more, Sharkey said.

We’re not seeing the compromises at the table that we would need,” he said.

Union officials did not say if teachers would go on strike if they are locked out of virtual classrooms Monday.

“We hope that we don’t get locked out tomorrow,” Sharkey said.

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