CHICAGO — Parents found out shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday that classes are canceled for Friday as the Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union brace for Day 2 of a strike that has put more than 300,000 students out of school.
Teachers, students and support staff picketed outside schools Thursday as negotiations continued between the union and school officials. While Mayor Lori Lightfoot sounded optimistic the strike could end soon, the union was less certain.
Before an afternoon CTU rally Downtown, union President Jesse Sharkey told reporters that while progress is being made, it’s unlikely a deal will be reached on Thursday. Hours later, it was announced that negotiations would spill into Friday. Robocalls then went out to parents about Friday’s canceled classes.
Hours earlier in East Garfield Park, Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice Jackson sounded more hopeful while they met with kids at Breakthrough FamilyPlex, 3219 W. Carroll Ave. Parents were able to bring their kids to Breakthrough Thursday as classes were canceled because of the strike.
“What we need is for the union to come back to the table, to bargain in good faith, and spend the time actually getting a deal done, face-to-face with us, and not off to the side in a caucus,” Lightfoot said, according to Chalkbeat. “We need them to focus in the bargaining sessions on actually hammering out a deal and getting it done.”
For teachers, sticking points, including smaller classes sizes and increased staffing for nurses, counselors, librarians and special education teachers, remain. The CTU ran a series of radio ads Thursday explaining these positions. While Lightfoot has said she agrees about the need for more support services, she has also said the money isn’t there to meet all of CTU’s demands.
But just hours into the strike, she sounded optimistic.
“I feel very good about where we are,” she said, according to Chalkbeat. “We could get a deal done today.”
Sharkey said CPS did provide a written proposal in response to the union’s requests for smaller class sizes, but added that it would take time to sort through it and ensure that funding would be adequate.
“Teachers have been taking a hard swallow, swallowing that lump in their throat that comes when you see something that’s wrong and you just have to put up with it because you can’t do anything about it,” Sharkey told reporters Thursday afternoon, adding that the strike has resulted in a “huge outpouring of emotion.”
This week, CPS put out robocalls notifying parents that the strike was likely at least 24 hours before it began. As of 2:30 p.m. Thursday, there’s no word whether school will be back in session Friday.
While classes are canceled, school buildings will remain open to children during their regular hours and kids will be able to get breakfast and lunch there. But after-school activities are also canceled.
Chicago Public Libraries will be open, as will several Safe Haven sites. For a full list of places welcoming kids during the strike, click here.
This story will be updated.
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