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Chicago Public Schools backs off threat of locking teachers out, big win for teachers union

The union is making it clear that the students are just pawns in their game of negotiations. 

In the ongoing battle between the teachers union and Chicago public schools, the ones left hurting are the students. 

A little over a week ago, Chicago Public Schools threatened to lock its K-8 teachers out of their remote learning tools if they failed to show up to prepare for the return of in-person learning. 

But, the school system doubled back on the threat in a joint statement issued Monday night by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson.

Why? To steer clear from a potential strike by the Chicago Teachers Union. 

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Both sides are in a feud over how to safely reopen schools. The district previously had planned on resuming in-person classes on Monday; however, the teachers union simply wasn’t interested.

The union previously threatened that its members would strike if they were denied access to programs they have been using to instruct students remotely, Fox News reports. 

“We have reached another important milestone today in our efforts to provide in-person learning for our students in the Chicago Public School system. We have secured an agreement on one other open issue and made substantial progress on a framework that we hope will address the remaining issues,” the statement said. “We are calling for a 48-hour cooling off period that will hopefully lead to a final resolution on all open issues.” 

“As a result of the progress we have made, and as a gesture of good faith, for now, teachers will retain access to their Google Suite,” it added. “Students will remain virtual Tuesday and Wednesday and we will update the CPS school community if there are further developments.” 

In response to the statement, Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey said “we are winning.” 

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“We are not currently locked out because of your unity, your commitment to your school communities, and your fearless solidarity,” he said. “We are literally working to steer CPS to a more responsible path ro reopen schools safely, and we are winning,” he added. “We want to keep working remotely as we bargain an agreement to return to our classrooms safely.” 

The union is making it clear that the students are just pawns in their game of negotiations. 

Indeed, the coronavirus lockdowns are hitting K-12 students particularly hard. Not only are they being robbed of an in-person education, they are missing out on critical emotional development and social interaction. A CDC study found that across the country between April and October of 2020, the percentage of emergency room mental health visits increased by 24 percent for those between the ages of five and 11, and 31 percent for those between the ages of 12 and 17, Business Insider reports. 

Leo Terrell blasted the union in a series of Tweets: 

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