Chicago Public Schools COVID testing kits submission deadline extended to Thursday, district says

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Public Schools has extended the deadline for parents and students to submit their COVID tests from Tuesday to Thursday, Dec. 30 at 5 p.m.

The district also added an additional drop-off location at Garfield Ridge Branch, 6348 S. Archer Ave.

Earlier this month, CPS says it handed out more than 150,000 free at-home COVID-19 tests to students at more than 300 schools in communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

The tests will be processed before class returns next week.

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Chicago Public Schools is pushing parents to get their children COVID tested Tuesday before returning to class next week.



"I think it's great for the teachers to send these (tests) home with the kids so we can know whenever we go back to school that we're going to be alright and we're going to be safe and healthy," said CPS parent Kamona Andrews.

Some are concerned whether all parents will be testing their child. Alicia Edwards, said she would prefer her daughter start off learning at home for the first few weeks, to account for the potential holiday spread.

"I hope they do e-learning again only because I know it's been busy the past two weeks of everybody getting together and stuff like that. It will be safer for me and I know it will be safer for her," said Edward. "Because again like I said, everybody won't test their child."

"CPS continues and the mayor continues to ignore the fact that our schools are not safe," said Maria Moreno, Chicago Teachers Union financial secretary.

According to the Chicago Teachers Union, 70% of Park Manor Elementary School students were on quarantine when CPS handed out the at-home tests.

"Something has got to give. We are scared to start on January 3 without testing and protection we need in place," said Briana Hambright-Hall, Park Manor school counselor.
Park Manor Elementary School parent Danelda Craig picked up a free at-home COVID test for her kids, concerned that the South Side school still isn't safe.

"I'm a hundred percent concerned because it's not just my kids, it's all the kids, it's the teachers," she said.

Craig got sick and missed Christmas with her children, who are both vaccinated, after her son remained asymptomatic after catching the virus from a fifth grade classmate and gave it to her. She is vaccinated as well.

On Tuesday the CTU tweeted images of two overflowing FedEx drop boxes where it says CPS families are expected to leave completed COVID testing kits.



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"We demand rapid testing on day one when we come back from holiday break," said parent Taneka Griffin-Lindsey.

CPS said there are no immediate plans to delay starting school in-person on Monday.

"We have our weekly testing that we will continue to do. We've built up our capacity now so that we have over 40,000 tests we can do in a week," said CPS CEO Pedro Martinez. "In addition to that, mid January we'll have a steady supply of home PCR tests so that if I have any school, any classroom that has to be in quarantine, we can then provide those tests to those children. They can take them and come back early."

In a statement Tuesday, the district also said that while research and experience shows school is the safest place for students, We expect that classrooms, and sometimes schools, will be transitioned to remote learning, as we identify and manage the positive cases among staff and students. But we are confident that we can manage those decisions in an agile and responsive way."

And while the union and some others want to rapid tests made available in schools and a switch to opt-out testing protocol, mom Showanda Renfro wonders if in the end, any of it will keep her 13-year-old son safe.

"They are saying test them today," Renfro said. "The New Year ain't even here yet, You want to test them today and send them back on the third? What about the third? They can walk in with COVID from the New Year."

Families that do not get take-home tests are encouraged to test students over winter break, with opportunities available at cps.edu/youthcovidtesting.

Here is a full list of test kit drop off locations:

Englewood: Kelly Branch, 6151 S. Normal Blvd.
Garfield Ridge Branch, 6348 S Archer Ave.,
South Shore: South Shore Branch, 2505 E. 73rd St.
Auburn Gresham: Thurgood Marshall Branch, 7506 S. Racine Ave.
Southeast Side: Vodak-East Side Branch, 3710 E. 106th St.
Austin: Austin Branch, 5615 W. Race Ave.
Altgeld Gardens: Altgeld Branch, 933 E. 131st Place
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