Chicago Public Schools plans to reduce the quarantine and isolation period for students and staff members from 10 to five days to mirror new guidance from the state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, district CEO Pedro Martinez said Wednesday.
“We are working with Dr. Arwady just to understand all the operational logistics because it isn’t just as simple as shortening (the period) to five days. There are a lot of other requirements that happen for both students and staff, so we’re in the process right now of identifying those operational logistics,” Martinez said at a news conference Wednesday with city public health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.
Martinez said a timeline on implementation of the new quarantine and isolation guidelines would be available by next week. The news comes as CPS is reporting record levels of students in quarantine or isolation. The district recorded its highest COVID-19 case numbers of the school year last week as students returned to classrooms following a week-long dispute with the Chicago Teachers Union that led the district to cancel classes.
Martinez blamed the rise in cases — 2,100 new student and 1,300 new adult infections last week — on students not being in school, where they’re required to wear masks indoors and they’re asked to social distance when possible.
“We always see the largest number of cases ... as they’re coming into school after a long period of break, and so it’s not a surprise to me that we saw those surges immediately,” Martinez said before noting that Arwady announced Wednesday the city has formally passed its omicron-fueled peak.
“I think this week will be interesting, because remember the city peaked last week. I think as we look at cases this week, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re seeing really a downward spiral of cases because schools are actually open.”
More than 590 student and 170 adult cases have been reported so far this week, according to CPS data that does not include charter school cases. The district said it is working toward COVID-19 testing at least 10% of each school’s student population through its weekly testing program that’s mandatory for unvaccinated staff members and voluntary for students.
More than 40,000 students had signed up for the free program as of last month. Martinez said Wednesday parents of nearly 83,000 students have now given their consent. CPS is the nation’s third-largest school district, with 330,000 students enrolled.
As part of the COVID-19 safety agreement CPS reached with CTU last week, the district said it will work with CTU to increase student participation in testing and vaccination through phone banks and incentives. A CPS representative told the Tribune Friday, however, “At this point, the district is not offering incentives for testing.”
For much of the school year, CPS has tried to administer 40,000 nasal swabs a week through its testing program. About 35,000 tests were taken last week, according to CPS data, with students only in school for three days because of the showdown. About 5% of those tests yielded positive results, which is higher than usual for the district.
Some testing hiccups persist. Drummond Montessori Magnet School Principal Erica Kittle told parents that only 91 of the 259 students and staff members who signed up for the program were tested Tuesday at the Bucktown school.
“This was due to having only one tester and a late start. We typically begin testing at 1 p.m. and two testers efficiently complete testing for all students and staff on the list,” Kittle wrote in an email to parents. “I have requested that (testing vendor) Color continue our typical weekly routine and schedule a make-up date this week if at all possible.”
Meanwhile, the number of student vaccinations continues to rise. About 53% of students 12 and older are fully vaccinated, while about a third of students ages 5 to 11 have received at least one dose, according to CPS. The district says about 91% of its staff is fully vaccinated.
CPS students and staff members who tested positive for the virus no matter their vaccination status have been directed to isolate for 10 days. Unvaccinated students and staff members have been told to quarantine for 10 days if a positive case was detected in their classroom. CPS shortened its quarantine timeline from 14 to 10 days in October.
Fully vaccinated, asymptomatic students and staff members are not required to quarantine. CPS reported 15,400 students and 1,100 adults were in quarantine or isolation as of Wednesday evening.
The state of Illinois now says students and staff members who test positive for COVID-19 — regardless of vaccination status — should stay home for a minimum of five days and a maximum of 10 days after the first day the symptoms began or the date of the positive test.
People may return to school after five days if they are asymptomatic or fever free without the use of medication. They must wear a mask around others for five days after returning to school.
Unvaccinated students and staff directed to quarantine should stay home for five days after the date of exposure. They should test for COVID-19 on day five, per the state, and wear a mask around others for five additional days. If they test positive, they should isolate.
CPS said it has ordered 600,000 child-sized and 600,000 adult-sized KN95 masks for staff and student use by the last week of January. The district said it will order an additional 4 million KN95 masks at the end of February to split among adults and children.
Source : https://news.yahoo.com/chicago-public-schools-shorten-quarantine-010400333.html1007