Video: Winter break isn’t over yet for Chicago students. But with the crescendo of COVID-19 cases teachers, districts and parents are anxiously looking ahead to next week when classes resume. (Produced by Amanda Vinicky)
Chicago Public Schools’ winter break continues until next week, but the district is encouraging staff, students and their families to get tested for COVID-19 this week before they return for classes.
CPS in December distributed around 150,000 free at-home COVID-19 tests to students at more than 300 schools in communities hardest hit by the pandemic. The district said families who got those tests should use them Tuesday and drop their samples at their nearest FedEx Drop Box that day.
That will allow enough time for the test to be processed and return a result before classes resume Jan. 3.
CPS has also “strongly encouraged” other families, students and staffers who did not get free tests from the district to get tested over winter break.
“As many of you gather with family members and loved ones during the holiday season, please keep in mind that we need to do everything we can to protect ourselves and others from COVID,” CPS CEO Pedro Martinez said in a statement. “By getting tested before returning from break, we can have a successful and healthy start to the new year.”
Martinez said last week CPS is planning to continue in-person learning into the new year amid spiking case counts caused by the spread of COVID-19’s omicron variant.
The Chicago Department of Public Health did not update its COVID-19 dashboard Monday, but the most recent available data from Dec. 23 shows that the city was averaging 2,570 new cases per day, a 129% increase over the previous week. Chicago’s positivity rate also jumped from 4.5% up to 9.2%.
Note: This story was originally published Dec. 27. It has been updated to include our “Chicago Tonight” discussion.