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CPS and CTU Leadership Reach Tentative Agreement; In-Person Learning to Resume for Pre-k and Cluster Programs on February 11

07 February 2021

CPS Office of Communications

Phone: 773-553-1620
Twitter: @chipubschools
Facebook: chicagopublicschools

CHICAGO — Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson today announced a tentative agreement has been reached with Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) leadership to resume in-person instruction beginning this week. Under the agreement, optional in-person learning will resume on Thursday, Feb. 11, for pre-k and cluster program staff and students, and K-8 will phase in over the weeks ahead. The tentative agreement has been signed by CTU leadership, which will bring the agreement to its members as part of the union’s review process . 

“This tentative agreement marks an important milestone for our communities, our families, and most importantly for our children, ensuring that our schools are both safe and that everyone's lived experiences are respected and heard,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “It also marks a momentous step forward in our citywide journey of renewal and recovery which has us fighting even harder to provide our kids the education, and resources they deserve to learn, grow, and pursue their dreams.” 

"It's been 11 long months since the vast majority of CPS students had the option to attend in person learning, and this agreement will finally provide families the ability to safely return in the days and weeks ahead,” said CEO Jackson. “This has been a lengthy and challenging negotiation, and we know it has weighed heavily on everyone in our school community. Our agreement is a victory for the students and families who need more than remote learning can provide, and it guarantees staff the protections and resources needed to safely return to the classroom."

As part of the tentative agreement, the district and the CTU established a new phased timeline for in-person learning, which will allow schools and educators time to transition back to the classroom. 


Staff Start Date

Student Start Date

Pre-K & Students in intensive and moderate cluster classrooms

February 11

February 11

Kindergarten—Grade 5

February 22

March 1

Grade 6—Grade 8

March 1

March 8

Prior to the start of the fourth quarter (which begins in April), families who previously chose to learn at home will be offered another opportunity to return to school. CPS and CTU will also form a joint task force to address safely reopening high schools. 

Significant New Components in Tentative Agreement: As part of our overarching agreement that ensures students are able to receive the high quality education they deserve while honoring the essential role educators play in a successful school opening the tentative agreement includes the following additional measures: 

  • Expediting Vaccination Opportunities and Prioritizing Individuals who live with Vulnerable Family Members: The district is doing everything in its power to vaccinate staff and educators as quickly as possible in an equitable manner. Through a partnership with Walgreens and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), 2,000 pre-k and cluster staff and staff without an accommodation who have medically vulnerable household members will be offered vaccinations beginning this week. To ensure doses are prioritized for employees who will be supporting school operations, staff members who live with medically vulnerable family members and accept this expedited vaccination opportunity must commit to returning to school within two weeks of receiving their first dose.

Through the district’s own vaccination sites — which will open later this month and will be available exclusively for CPS employees — we will be able to provide vaccination doses to 1,500 CPS employees per week out of the city’s limited supply. Staff who work in the city’s 15 most impacted and vulnerable communities may also be offered vaccinations through the city’s Protect Chicago Plus initiative. 

  • Metrics to Pause In-Person Learning District-Wide: Under the tentative agreement, the district will revert to online learning for at least 14 calendar days if the city’s COVID-19 test positivity rate (7-day rolling average) meets the following criteria:

  1. Rate increases for 7 consecutive days: 
  2. Rate for each of the 7 consecutive days is at least 15% higher than the rate one week prior; and 
  3. Citywide positivity rate on the 7th day is 10% or greater. 

CPS will resume in-person learning after 14 days or when the positivity rate no longer meets all of the criteria above — whichever occurs at a later time. The agreement also establishes pause metrics for individual pods and schools: 

  • Pausing in-person learning for individual pods: CPS will pause in-person instruction in a classroom (pod) when there has been one confirmed positive COVID-19 case. 
  • Pausing in-person learning for individual schools: CPS will implement a school-wide operational pause when there are three or more confirmed positive cases in three or more different classrooms at a school within a 14-day period. If cases are traced to identified exposures from in-school or non-school circumstances, the impacted classrooms and individuals will remain quarantined and other classes can resume. If cases cannot be linked and in-school transmission cannot be ruled out, the school will remain closed for 14 days. 
  • Accommodations and Leave: CPS has granted and will continue to grant approval for telework accommodations to employees at increased risk for severe illness due to COVID-19 and to employees who serve as primary caregivers for family members at increased risk for severe illness due to COVID-19, provided employees complete the application with proper documentation. All other accommodation requests will continue to be granted when operationally feasible and consistent with providing a high quality learning experience to in-person students. Any CTU member without an accommodation who is not fully vaccinated may take a job-protected unpaid leave of absence, with full benefits during the third academic quarter. 

CPS and CTU leadership previously reached agreements on a variety of other issues that reflect the district’s commitment to meeting and exceeding public health standards. These include: 

  • Health and Safety Protocols: The health and safety of everyone in CPS schools is priority number one, and the district has worked with the Chicago Department of Public Health to ensure its plan meets and exceeds the recommendations for safely operating during the pandemic. Key mitigations include health screenings and temperature checks, access to hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, face coverings and PPE, regular cleaning and disinfection protocols, and social distancing.

  • Ventilation: In addition to the Centers for Disease Control’s primary recommendations for preventing the spread of COVID-19, the district has undertaken an extensive effort to ensure all classrooms used this year are properly ventilated. Independent, state certified environmental specialists have tested every school’s indoor air quality, and engineers have done ventilation checks in all classrooms. To provide an additional layer of protection, the district has invested $8.5 million in HEPA air purifiers for all classrooms and office spaces. Families can view the results of their school’s air quality assessments at

  • Contact Tracing: To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the district has established a 10-person contact tracing team, which investigates all known cases of COVID in district schools. Working in close coordination with the Chicago Department of Public Health, the district’s contact tracing team notifies all close contacts and ensures that proper notifications are sent to each school community in a timely manner.

  • Health and Safety Committees: To ensure union members and other school staff have a role to play in promoting safe learning environments, the district will establish district- and school-level health and safety committees charged with ensuring safety and mitigation measures are implemented appropriately and consistently.

Chicago Public Schools serves 341,000 students in 638 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.