mixetto/iStockBy MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News(NEW YORK) — As two school districts that have been largely closed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic plot a return to in-person learning, city and school officials are battling over what that should look like in drawn-out union deals and lawsuits.Over 70,000 elementary and middle school students in Chicago were expected to return to schools this past Monday for a hybrid model — but they have been fully remote all week as Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) have yet to reach a deal.Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot expressed frustration Thursday with the ongoing negotiations, which have spanned over 80 meetings, saying during a press briefing that the union has “created chaos that we are now enduring.”Chicago’s public schools have been largely remote since March 2020. Pre-K and special education students returned for in-person learning last month. The school system has invested $100 million in health mitigations for reopening, Lightfoot said, including ventilation, health screenings, testing, face coverings and enhanced cleaning.“These schools are open and safe, and we are ready to welcome our students back,” Lightfoot said, noting that the citywide COVID-19 test positivity rate is 5%. “And frankly, they’ve been ready for some time. All we need now is for the CTU leadership to get serious and meet us at the finish line.”“The ball is in the CTU’s court,” Lightfoot said.In a press release Thursday, the union charged that the school district was holding up an agreement.“CPS continues to reject using CDC health metrics, refuses to allow educators with medically vulnerable household members to continue to teach remotely — even though most of the district’s Black and Latinx students will remain remote — and refuses to make improvements in remote learning, despite months of pleas from parents, students and educators,” said the union, which represents more than 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel.The city is working on a vaccination plan for school staff, the mayor said. According to a document obtained by ABC Chicago station WLS-TV from sources close to the bargaining table, the district agreed to vaccinate 1,500 CTU members a week, though the CTU is asking that that number increase as more doses become available.Friday is a non-attendance day for public school students, giving the sides more time to negotiate. Both CPS and the CTU are hoping to avert a strike, according to WLS.In San Francisco, where schools have remained remote since March, the city has resorted to a lawsuit against its own school district in an attempt to reopen classrooms.City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced he had sued the San Francisco Board of Education and the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) on Wednesday, charging that they have failed to come up with a reopening plan that meets state requirements.“The Board of Education and the school district have had more than 10 months to roll out a concrete plan to get these kids back in school. So far, they have earned an F,” Herrera said in a statement.School board members approved a resolution in November that would have started bringing students back on Jan. 25, but the target date was delayed by bargaining with district employee labor organizations.The lawsuit alleges that the plan doesn’t meet state requirements to “offer classroom-based instruction whenever possible,” particularly for students suffering serious learning loss.“The data is clear. Black, Latino, and Asian students, especially low-income students, have lost ground academically compared to white and wealthier students,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement. “This is hurting the mental health of our kids and our families. Our teachers have done an incredible job of trying to support our kids through distance learning, but this isn’t working for anyone. And we know we can do this safely.”The city allowed San Francisco schools to reopen for in-person learning in September. Since then, over 100 private, independent and parochial schools serving nearly 16,000 students have returned to in-person learning.Herrera said he plans to file a motion on Feb. 11 asking the court to issue an emergency court order to direct the school district, which is governed by the Board of Education, to prepare to offer in-person learning.San Francisco United School District Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews called the lawsuit “frivolous.”“It appears that the city attorney has not read through our plans or joined the hours of open meetings we have had on the topic of safely returning to in-person learning,” Matthews said in a statement. “It is simply untrue that the board and district have no plan to reopen schools. SFUSD has a very comprehensive plan with specific steps around health and safety and what in-person learning will look like for our focal student populations to return as soon as we can complete all the clearly laid out steps.”Board of Education President Gabriela Lopez charged that the city has not heeded calls to provide schools support for surveillance testing for staff and students — a claim that was echoed by the unions of San Francisco United School District.“Instead of wasting our time on a lawsuit, the city and mayor could have done what we have been calling for all along, which is to bring all of us together to finalize and implement safety standards and protocols,” the unions said in a statement.The battles play out as President Joe Biden looks to reopen a majority of K-8 schools in his first 100 days of office.The administration said it plans to work with states and localities on ensuring schools can open safely by prioritizing teachers’ vaccinations, enabling widespread testing and providing additional guidance for school administrators on things like how to improve ventilation and PPE.Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. 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Facebook Twitter Google+ Syracuse has played 724 games since Neil Gold became a season-ticket holder in 1996. He’s missed fewer than five of them.The people of central New York all live with one thing in common: a rabid obsession with Syracuse. Specifically, the men’s basketball team. More than 18 million people have passed through the Carrier Dome turnstiles since 1980, perhaps none more loyal than Gold. Even in SU’s mediocre years, this season included, he arrives to the Dome two hours before tip, sits courtside on the same seat across from the visitor bench and roots for the Orange. He travels with the team for every away game, too.This season marks his 50th as an official SU fan, a title he’s held since he first stepped foot on the SU campus as a freshman mathematics major in 1967. Gold, a 67-year-old retired businessman from Brooklyn, New York, has rooted for the Orange since current head coach Jim Boeheim served as a graduate assistant. He’s witnessed SU reach six Final Fours and nine National Invitational Tournaments, win five conference tournaments and claim one national title. In 21 seasons as a season-ticket holder, he has been to four NITs, three Final Fours and the 2003 national championship game.During Gold’s half-century of fandom, Syracuse has failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament only 12 times (excluding 1993 and 2015, when SU was banned from postseason eligibility). This season, SU may not receive a ticket to the Big Dance for what would be only the fifth time since Gold became a season-ticket holder in 1996. Still, Syracuse basketball remains a part of Gold’s identity.“It’s just painful sometimes,” Gold said. “It’s very hard to enjoy myself unless it’s a 20-point blowout. But I love it. I’m passionate. Going to all of the games creates a bond. Last year, we didn’t know we’d get into the Tournament and look what happened. I think we could do that again.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAt 17, Gold begged his friends to join him for freshman and varsity basketball games in Manley Field House. In the years since, Syracuse basketball has undergone changes big and small, with the jump to the Carrier Dome, a pair of NCAA investigations, a No. 1 overall draft pick, back-to-back NIT appearances, a move to a new conference and two Final Fours in the last four years.Gold’s most vivid memories are the championships. He attended Syracuse’s six-overtime game at Madison Square Garden in 2009. He flew to Houston for last year’s improbable Final Four run. He has sat in every Atlantic Coast Conference and Big East arena. He’s traveled to Hawaii, the Bahamas and Los Angeles for games. By many accounts, SU hoops is his lifeblood.“If Syracuse loses,” Gold said, “it usually takes me a few days to get over it.”Jacob Greenfeld | Asst. Photo EditorFor about 15 years, Gold logged hundreds of nights at the Sheraton Hotel on University Avenue and hundreds of flights from Syracuse-Hancock International Airport to see SU play. He’d leave his Long Island home at around 3:30 p.m., hop on a 4:30 flight out of John F. Kennedy International Airport to Syracuse and walk into the Carrier Dome during warmups. He’d watch the game, then crash at the Sheraton, whose concierge books his nights shortly after the annual release of the basketball schedule. The next day, Gold rises at 4 a.m. to fly back to New York for work at 8. Other times, he replaces the flight with a road trip up Interstate 81.“It was very draining to do all of that,” Gold said. “It really took away from some of the enjoyment of the games.”The total travel over 21 seasons, he estimated, exceeds 500,000 miles. He recalled being the only passenger on some planes due to either ice storms or wee-hour flight times. For years, he rode the team charter to away games because he is an SU donor. And, in 2011, Gold moved into a 4,200-square-foot home in Manlius. His basement doubles as half man cave, half Syracuse haven. A Carrier Dome sign sits on the stairwell. Memorabilia like photos, jerseys, sneakers and tickets hang on the walls. His leather couches are orange, vodka orange and blue, the layout spread throughout a few rooms.After Syracuse won the 2003 national title, SU Athletics asked Gold for his ring size. He didn’t know, so he hopped in the car and drove to a local jewelry store to find out. In the next few years, he wore the ring to games. Now, it sits in a case.Across the room hangs Boeheim’s famous ripped-off jacket, from an ejection after a controversial charge call at Duke in February 2014. Gold, a member of the SU Board of Trustees, won the coat with a $14,000 bid at a Syracuse basketball program charity event. Near that lies the national title ring, 2003 national championship game ball, Carmelo Anthony autographed jersey and Hakim Warrick signed poster of his championship-winning block. There’s also a Gerry McNamara “Overrated?” T-Shirt, referring to a 2006 poll of Big East assistant coaches voting him the league’s most overrated player.Jacob Greenfeld | Asst. Photo EditorA Sports Illustrated cover featuring Anthony also hangs near glass from Arinze Onuaku’s smashed backboard, and the bathroom’s bath rug mimics a court, its towels blue and its light a basketball-hoop fixture. One of Gold’s favorite pieces is a 2007 thank you letter from Boeheim, which included a reference to the Gold family’s horseradish business.“You don’t try to give me points on how to coach the team,” Boeheim wrote to him. “You and I have an understanding. I don’t give you tips on how to improve your mustard or horseradish relishes and you don’t give me tips on when to play zone or switch to man-to-man.”Boeheim has yet to see the shrine, but the pair chat at team events and before games. Once the clock turns on, Gold points at referees, extends his arms in jubilation and throws them aside in frustration, gesticulations revealing the fan within. He has cheered on Syracuse for 50 years, and he will give another reminder of that when he sits courtside in the Carrier Dome on Saturday for his 720th game. Comments Published on March 2, 2017 at 10:55 pm Contact Matthew: [email protected] | @MatthewGut21