CHICAGO (WLS) -- Week one is over for thousands of Chicago Public Schools students as they head home for the weekend, but a few students and staff never made it to their buildings this week.
CPS data shows 311 adults and 296 students self-reported positive COVID cases.
The number is much higher compared to last year's first week of school, which had 65 adult and 139 student cases.
"I don't think it's surprising we have higher numbers of COVID compared to last year," said Dr. Tina Tan of Lurie Children's Hospital. "Of the current variant or Omicron BA 5 is actually the most transmissible."
Tan said what is surprising is how many school districts, including CPS, have relaxed so many protocols.
Masks are optional and no more quarantines for students and staff exposed to someone with COVID as CPS CEO Pedro Martinez explained earlier this week...
The Chicago Teacher's Union said if cases continue to go up, masks must come back.
"There is nothing stopping the district and we have advocated for this to immediately re-impose a mask mandate, if they are seeing spread," said CTU Vice President Jackson Potter.
The relaxed mitigations concern doctors because vaccination rates remain low.
"People need to remember that some normal healthy children will develop severe symptoms and need to be hospitalized which is why getting vaccinated is so important," Tan said.
Doctors said school districts might want consider bringing back protocols because they worked so well last year in schools.