At a Tuesday afternoon press conference, CPS CEO Pedro Martinez and Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner Dr Allison Arwady announced that schools would reduce quarantine time to 10 days instead. from 14.
Officials said there are currently 306 adults and nearly 6,400 students are in quarantine. This, they said, is indicative of overly strict quarantine guidelines resulting in too many students being quarantined for potential exposure.
According to CPS data, just over 1,200 students have tested positive for COVID since the start of the school year.
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“This decision is based on science,” Martinez said.
Arwady noted that a total of 0.48% of children have tested positive for COVID in schools, and recommended that the district shorten the quarantine of potential exposure. She said 98% to 99% of students quarantined for this reason do not develop COVID.
“We have had a stable number of cases of children aged 0 to 17 since August 30, when most of our school systems returned to school,” Arwady said.
Arwady also said there has been no significant increase in COVID cases among children since in-person learning resumed at the start of the school year almost six weeks ago, and that the city as a whole continues to see a drop in cases and low numbers overall. .
In Martinez’s first week of CPS, he said he tested over 15,000 students.
“What I want you to look at is the trajectory. The ramp-up is happening. We have increased over 7,000 additional tests administered just week to week,” he said.
“I’m sure I never personally said that we would test all students every week as there are different types of tests available,” Arwady added.
But containing that spread, doctors said, also depends on notifying schools if a child is positive and getting all eligible students vaccinated.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said some schools have overreacted and have quarantined students.
“Excessive quarantine creates chaos and that shouldn’t be a thing,” Mayor Lightfoot said. “It’s pretty simple. We have to be very clear with the protocols. We must not place this burden on building managers; it is not fair to them. And we have to be very transparent with the parents.”
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The Chicago Teacher’s Union has said the school system relies too much on self-reporting by parents when a huge percentage of students still do not have the opportunity to be vaccinated.
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