Since the start of the pandemic, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has followed the science when making decisions about how to create a safe learning environment for students and staff. As we learn more about COVID-19 from trusted public health partners like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), we use this information to adjust our safety protocols and guide our response.
Recently, CDC, IDPH, and CDPH have all recommended shortening the isolation/quarantine time from 10 days to 5 days for those who test positive for COVID-19 and unvaccinated close contacts.
CPS will be adopting this change, and it will go into effect for all CPS students and staff on Tuesday, February 1.
According to the CDC, this change is being recommended because the majority of COVID-19 transmission “occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after.” Furthermore, shortening the isolation/quarantine period will provide more certainty to parents, students, and staff, and will allow impacted students to return to their classrooms more quickly for the in-person learning that gives them their best opportunity for success.
Here’s what the change to a 5-day quarantine/isolation period will mean for your family:
- Children who test positive for COVID-19, regardless of their vaccination status, will need to isolate and learn at home for five days rather than 10. If the child still has symptoms after Day 5, they should continue to isolate at home for the full 10 day period. If the child no longer has symptoms after Day 5, the child will be free to return to school on Day 6 with the following precautions in place:
- From Days 6 - 10, students will keep their masks on at all times, including while outdoors, except when eating or drinking.
- When masks must be removed for eating and drinking, these students will maintain six feet of social distance from others wherever possible.
- Children who are not yet vaccinated or are not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines, and who have been identified as close contacts of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, will need to quarantine and learn at home for 5 days rather than 10.
- Children who are up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines, and who have been identified as close contacts of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 will not have to quarantine at all.
Students who are directed to isolate or quarantine by the Office of Student Health and Wellness (OSHW) will continue to receive direct instruction from their teachers while they are learning at home.
Please visit cps.edu/isolationguidance for Frequently Asked Questions and additional details on our District’s shift to a 5-day quarantine/isolation period.
Changes to our Leadership Team
Experienced leaders are needed as we navigate our current challenges and look toward the future. So I was glad to present the Chicago Board of Education this week with these five exemplary candidates for senior leadership roles within the District:
- Bogdana Chkoumbova, Chief Education Officer
- Crystal Cooper, Chief of Staff
- Ivan Hansen, Chief of Facilities
- Adrian Segura, Chief of Family and Community Engagement (FACE)
- Melissa Stratton, Chief of Communications
- Interim Chief Education Officer Dr. Maurice Swinney. Dr. Swinney has touched the lives of so many in our CPS community. From his role as a CPS principal, to serving as the District’s first-ever Equity Chief, to taking on the enormous responsibility of Chief Education Officer, he has always put the needs of our students first, and has been the driving force behind our mission to become a District that makes every decision with equity at the core.
- Chief Health Officer Dr. Kenneth Fox. Through his leadership of the Office of Student Health and Wellness, Dr. Fox has been instrumental in guiding our school communities through the unchartered waters of a global pandemic. And prior to this public health crisis, he helped CPS increase our Medicaid enrollment from 50 percent to 90 percent, giving 80,000 more families access to healthcare, as well as helping develop numerous policies to advance health equity for students.
Pending COVID-19 Litigation
As part of our efforts to be fully transparent, we want to let our CPS community know about an upcoming legal decision that MAY impact our District’s response to the pandemic. In response to lawsuits brought against the state of Illinois and many Illinois school districts, the court MAY grant what is known as a Temporary Restraining Order, or TRO, which would require that CPS stop the enforcement of certain current health and safety protocols, including the wearing of masks. If a TRO is issued, CPS will continue to fight against this lawsuit and immediately file for a “stay” asking that the judge’s order NOT be enforced while we appeal the court’s decision.
Whatever happens with these lawsuits, CPS will STRONGLY ENCOURAGE all students and staff to continue wearing masks as they have successfully done throughout the school year. We are confident that the vast majority of our school communities will do exactly this, because it is in all of our best interests to stay safe.
No decision has been made yet, and we feel confident that any change would likely be temporary. We would hope to quickly return to implementing all of the proven protocols that we know are keeping staff and students safe, including the wearing of masks. We will keep everyone updated as this litigation moves forward.
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Public Schools