Chicago's teachers voted late Tuesday afternoon to return to the classroom after more than a week on the picket lines, ending a bitter stalemate with Mayor Rahm Emanuel that put teacher evaluations and job security at the center of a national debate about the future of public education, the Associated Press reported.

Union delegates voted to formally suspend the strike after discussing details of a proposed contract worked out over the weekend. Classes could resume as early as Wednesday. 

Tuesday's meeting was the second of the nearly 800 union delegates, who sought to bring closure to the strike and have teachers and students return to school. They first sought a resolution on Sunday, but a majority of the delegates were in favor of continuing the strike.

The Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday that union leaders already signed off on the tentative contract with Chicago Public Schools. However, the task at hand is to persuade the delegates to put an end to the strike so that the thousands of union members can vote on the deal, the local paper added.

The walkout has run for eight days now and has affected more than 350,000 children. It is first such strike in the nation's third largest school district in 25 years.

Emanuel sought an injunction earlier this week to end the strike because he said it was illegal and "endangers the health and safety of our children."

The court action didn't sway the union, which responded saying such relief would have been sought on the first day if the strike was illegal.

"The law provides that if a strike is illegal only the labor board has jurisdiction to stop a strike," CTU spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin said in a press release responding to the mayor's decision to involve the court. "CPS has never filed any claim with the labor board that our strike is illegal."

Gadlin also said the union is striking over "mandatory subjects of bargaining such as compensation, evaluation procedures and the conditions within our classrooms."