After counting the votes, the Chicago Teachers Union voted yes to resume in-person learning. With 13,681 members voting yes, Pre-k and Cluster program teachers, students, and staff will once again return to the classroom on Thursday. In-person classes were canceled, and students who previously opted in were placed back into remote learning while CPS and CTU bargained over safety metrics, vaccinations, school readiness, PPE, staff accommodations.
The announcement came just after midnight Wednesday morning, with CTU stating that the ballot counting was complete and that its members voted to approve the tentative framework agreement. There were 6,585 no votes, just under half the number of yes votes, ultimately avoiding a possible strike.
The vote brings an end to a tumultuous couple of weeks where the Chicago Teachers Union, CPS, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot often butted heads. Both Mayor Lightfoot and CTU leaders Jesse Sharkey and Stacy Davis Gates would express their frustrations with the negotiations during their perspective press briefings.
In a statement released today by Mayor Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice Jackson, the two said, “We look forward to welcoming students as they return to their classrooms in the days ahead. This vote reaffirms the strength and fairness of our plan, which provides families and employees certainty about returning to schools and guarantees the best possible health and safety protocols.”
In an email sent this morning to CTU members announcing the results, Union President Jesse Sharkey stated that “This agreement represents where we should have started months ago, not where this has landed.” He went on to say, “This agreement also puts us in a vastly better position than we were in November.” Under the newly agreed-upon framework, Pre-K and Cluster program teachers, staff, and students who opted in for In-person learning return to the classroom on Thursday. Teachers and staff in grades Kindergarten-5th will return on February 22nd, with students returning on March 1st. Teachers and staff in grades 6th-8th will return on March 1st, with students returning on March 8th.
Paula J. Shelton is a freelance writer and journalist based in Chicago. Find her on social @beboldshineon.