School districts discuss possible return to in-person learning with rapid COVID-19 tests

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Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Will IL return to in-person learning following rapid COVID-19 test distribution?
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Illinois school districts discuss return to in-person learning following President Trump's announcement to distribute millions of rapid COVID-19 tests in a push to get schools to r

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A suburban district met Monday night to talk about plans to move to in-person learning.

Officials with Oswego District 308 are giving parents the option to stay remote if they want.

The move comes as President Trump announced Monday that millions of rapid tests are being deployed to states with the specific goal of getting students back in school.

As of Monday night, the state of Illinois is not sure how many of those tests are coming to the area.

President Trump wants the country back open as he promises to ramp up quick-turn COVID-19 testing to help make it happen.

"I'm pleased to report that we are announcing our plan to distribute 150 million Abbott rapid point-of-care tests in the coming weeks, very, very soon," Trump said during Monday's announcement in the Rose Garden.

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The White House said those fast results tests will be sent to states across the country, with priority for nursing homes and schools.

"For example, the support my administration is providing would allow every state to, on a very regular basis, test every teacher who needs it," Trump said.

However, the Illinois Department of Public Health they've already been receiving rapid tests from the federal government.

"Long-term care facilities in Illinois have been receiving rapid tests from the federal government for a couple weeks. We have recently learned that rapid tests will be sent to Illinois with more flexibility in how they can be used, although the federal government has not indicated how many tests Illinois will receive," according to a statement from IDPH.

"I want to see it to believe it," Mayor Lightfoot said Monday. "So if we get additional tests, of course, that will help. Will it make a difference in our ability to get people back in school? I'm not so certain."

Lightfoot was clear the health metrics just aren't there yet to safely send students and teachers back to Chicago Public School classrooms, although she is hopeful they can still meet the original target date of November 9.

While more testing will help, the Chicago Teacher's Union said the city is opening bars and restaurants, and disregarding all kinds of changes schools desperately need.

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"We have to think about our principals, our teachers, our staff coming back to work. What does that mean for them," Lightfoot said.

With structural demands from the teacher's union, no clear plan yet from the city on retuning to in-person learning during a pandemic, and cold and flu season approaching, fast action testing might not be enough.