Public schools in Chicago are reopening following a contentious fight with the teachers’ union over COVID-19 safety protocols. The city is also easing restrictions on restaurants, bars and other businesses as coronavirus cases continue to decline. Washington Post Live hosts Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot for an in-depth conversation about the city’s reopening plans, vaccine rollout and Lightfoot’s strategy for driving economic recovery.


Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says the decision to begin a phased reopening of the city’s public schools is a “simple matter of equity” for her. “We know that remote learning works for some, but there’s too many Black and Brown kids, low income kids, in our system for whom remote learning is not working. We have the first quarter grades in, and we’re seeing significant increases in the number of African American and Latinx students who are failing math and reading.” (Washington Post Live)
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says teachers will not be required to get the coronavirus vaccination to return to the classroom. “I don’t really think in this phase where we’re under emergency use authorization that we can require it, but what we are doing is offering it to a range of teachers.” (Washington Post Live)
When asked if she still supports having an elected school board versus one appointed by the mayor, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said whatever system the city moves toward, parents have to “a seat at the table of governance,” adding that the proposals that she’s seen so far fail to do so. “I can’t agree to any kind of change of governance where parents aren’t front and center.” (Washington Post Live)
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot commended the Biden Administration the work it has done to increase vaccine production and distribution, but she says cities still need more to meet demands. “The bottom line — and it’s not a secret — no one has enough vaccine…so increasing that supply on a weekly basis is critically important.” (Washington Post Live)

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot

Lori E. Lightfoot is the 56th Mayor of Chicago.

Since assuming office following her historic election, Mayor Lightfoot has undertaken an ambitious agenda of expanding opportunity and inclusive economic growth across Chicago’s neighborhoods and communities, with early accomplishments including landmark ethics and good governance reforms and worker protection legislation, followed by key investments across education, public safety, financial stability, racial equity, and neighborhood investment.

In response to the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, Mayor Lightfoot has led a coordinated, citywide response across government, business, and community organizations to effectively address its public health and economic impact through the creation of the Racial Equity Rapid Response Team, the COVID-19 Recovery Task Force, along with other actions.

Prior to her election, Mayor Lightfoot most recently served as a senior equity partner in the Litigation and Conflict Resolution Group at Mayer Brown. Previously, she served as President of the Chicago Police Board, as well as the Chair of the Police Accountability Task Force.

Mayor Lightfoot also served as Chief of Staff and General Counsel of the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications, interim First Deputy of the Chicago Department of Procurement Services, Chief Administrator of the Office of Professional Standards, and as Assistant United States Attorney.

A native of Massillon, Ohio, Mayor Lightfoot has been a resident of Chicago since 1986 and lives on the Near Northwest Side with her wife Amy Eshleman and their daughter.