CPS updates COVID quarantine protocols as Lightfoot says 'over-quarantining creates chaos'

Close to 6K CPS students in quarantine as 1,200 test positive for COVID

Liz Nagy Image
Wednesday, October 6, 2021
CPS announces new COVID quarantine guielines
Citing low case rates and no evidence in an increase in spread since school started, CPS officials said the quarantine period for possibel COVID exposure will go from 14 to 10 days

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Public Schools officials announced changes to their COVID-19 quarantine policy after leaders said too many students are staying home.

In a Tuesday afternoon press conference, CPS CEO Pedro Martinez and Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady announced the schools would reduce quarantine time to 10 days from 14.

Officials said there are currently 306 adults and nearly 6,400 students are in quarantine. That, they said, is indicative of too-strict quarantine guidelines resulting in too many students 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.

SEE ALSO | CPS elementary school mother dies of COVID, family says caught from daughter through school

"This decision is based on science," Martinez said.

Arwady noted a total of 0.48% of kids have tested positive for COVID while in schools, and recommended the district shorten the potential exposure quarantine. She said 98%-99% of students that are quarantined for that reason do not develop COVID.

"We've had a stable number of child cases in 0- to 17-ear-olds since August 30, when most of our school systems went back to school," Arwady said.

Arwady also said there has been no significant increase in COVID cases in children since in-person learning has resume at the start of the school year nearly six weeks ago, and that the city overall continues to see a decline in cases and low numbers in total.

In Martinez's first week running CPS, he said they tested more than 15,000 students.

"What I want you to look at is the trajectory. The ramp up is happening. We went up more than 7,000 more tests being give just from week to week," he said.

"I am quite sure that I never personally said we would be testing all students every week because there are different kinds of testing that's available," Arwady added.

But containing that spread, doctors said, also depends on notifying schools if a child tests positive and making sure all eligible students are vaccinated.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said that some schools have been reacting too aggressively and over-quarantining students.

"Over-quarantining creates chaos and that should not be a thing," Mayor Lightfoot said. "It's pretty straightforward. We have to be very clear with protocols. We have to not put that burden on building principals; that's not fair to them. And we have to be very transparent with parents."

SEE ALSO | New Chicago Public Schools CEO, Chicago's top doctor address COVID safety protocols

The Chicago Teacher's Union said the school system is relying too heavily on self-reporting by parents when a huge percentage of students still don't have the ability to get vaccinated.