The head of the Chicago Teachers Union is now calling Mayor Lori Lightfoot “relentlessly stupid” as hundreds of thousands of students are missing out on a fourth consecutive day of classes due to an ongoing dispute over coronavirus safety measures.
CTU President Jesse Sharkey made the comment Monday morning, nearly a week after his rank-and-file voted to switch to remote learning because of increasing coronavirus cases in the area. However, Chicago Public Schools is refusing to allow remote learning and instead has been canceling classes outright, while both sides remain locked in negotiations to bring students back into classrooms.
“We feel like we’re at a point where we don’t have enough at the table to be able to go back to the people who, frankly, have sacrificed a lot at this point, and confidently say, ‘This is something that can help us ensure our safety,” Sharkey said Monday. “The mayor is being relentless, but she’s being relentlessly stupid, she is being relentlessly stubborn.”
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The union boss spoke outside of John Spry Community School in Chicago, where his organization says 130 elementary-age students “were absent on Jan. 3, and more than 30 percent of students present tested positive for COVID-19.”
When asked by a reporter on what is holding up negotiations, Sharkey said “right now, it’s the mayor.
“We have said all along there are three elements to a potential settlement: The question of remote instruction, the question of widespread testing and the question of a metric that would allow individual schools to flip to remote if there is an outbreak at the school,” he continued.
“We don’t like bullies, we don’t like tyrants,” Sharkey also said. “We’re not going to be bullied or pushed into a corner. So that’s where we’re at right now.”
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Chicago Public Schools said in a tweet Sunday night that it remains “committed to reaching an agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union as soon as possible.”
“Out of fairness and consideration for parents who need to prepare, classes will be canceled again Monday,” added Lightfoot in a tweet. “Although we have been negotiating hard throughout the day, there has not been sufficient progress for us to predict a return to class tomorrow.”
Lightfoot criticized the Chicago Teacher’s Union during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press” Sunday.
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“Fundamentally what we cannot do is abandon the science. We know that the safest place for kids to be is in-person learning in schools,” Lightfoot told host Chuck Todd. “And we’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars to make our schools safe. They are safe. We’ve got the data to demonstrate that. We’ve got to get the teacher’s union to get real and get serious about getting back into in-person learning.”
Lightfoot’s office, Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Fox News on the latest with negotiations and reactions to Sharkey’s remarks.
Fox News’ Adam Sabes and Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.