Thousands of Chicago’s teachers and support staff used the fifth day of their strike on Wednesday to protest outside City Hall during a budget address by Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Earlier this week, the mayor, who is a Democrat, appealed to the city’s teachers union to end the strike and return to work even without a settled contract. Students who have continued to show up for school during the work stoppage have faced a skeleton crew of administrators and nonunion employees whose primary goals are to provide a safe space and ensure the students receive breakfast and lunch.
Parents of more than 300,000 students have kept their children out of school, asking relatives and neighbors for childcare or using one of the numerous “strike camps” that have popped up. Many local organizations like the YMCA and Salvation Army have opened free temporary drop-in programs as well.
The Chicago Teachers Union said its teachers would not return to the classroom without further progress on negotiations, but union President Jesse Sharkey said the strike could end this week. The union and district are fighting over class sizes, salaries, and staffing levels for nurses, librarians, social workers, and other support personnel. —L.E.