Mayor Lightfoot 'disappointed' with CPS COVID-19 testing rollout

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she is "disappointed" with the rollout for COVID-19 testing Chicago Public Schools students and staff.

But she said she's confident it will improve.

Efforts to test all Chicago Public School students and staff for COVID-19 have been delayed until the end of September.

Mayor Lightfoot admitted on WTTW's Chicago Tonight Monday night that the rollout has gotten off to a slow and confusing start.

"I'm disappointed in the way this has been rolled out," she said. "I'm saying that in anticipation of the opening of schools, there should have been a much more robust plan and infrastructure in place."

The Chicago Teachers Union reacted to the mayor's remarks after they have been sounding alarms about COVID safety in schools since before the year began.

Nearly 500 students have tested positive for COVID this school year, potentially exposing as many as 9,600 students, according to CPS data.

"I'm pretty angry that she had to see 10,000 people in quarantine, hundreds with COVID-19 in our school communities, before she admitted to her failure," said CTU VP Stacy Davis Gates.

The CTU is still in negotiations with the district calling for adequate testing, contact tracing and a metric to understand if school communities are safe.

"We are proud that our mayor is acknowledging a problem in the schools," CPS parent Leigh Mabry said. "We've been saying it since, well, before school started."

"Testing needs to be stood up yesterday," Gates said. "Contact tracing needs more people working so that we are able to understand what's happening and what's not happening."

Lidia Diaz has four children in CPS, and while she is grateful they are in school she is deeply concerned about COVID coming into their multigenerational home.

"I think they know more than what they tell us," Diaz said. "I think they are just more worried about benefits of the attendance and stuff, but I don't think they care too much about what may happen to families or students."

Diaz said she wants to keep her kids in school but if cases keeping rising she may keep them home as other families have already chosen to do.

School has been in session for more than a month. Students have returned in person, five days a week without any capacity limits.

Mayor Lightfoot maintains the district is moving forward.

"I am confident that things will improve and they will improve because Dr. Arwady and her team on the case and they will be helping to build up the infrastructure with CPS to do better case investigation and contact tracing," Lightfoot said.
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