CHICAGO — Chicago Public Schools has created a voluntary coronavirus testing program for in-school staff as it brings students back to classrooms.
CPS chief Janice Jackson explained the program Monday morning, as CPS welcomed back its first wave of students since schools closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic. While teachers have been asking the district to implement testing of students and staff if they are to return, CPS’ plan applies only to staff on a once-monthly, voluntary basis.
Under the program, teachers and other staff members who participate will be given a rapid test once a month, Jackson said. They will get their results in about 15 minutes.
Any staff members who test positive will then be given a PCR test, Jackson said. Results for those tests typically take several days.
The results of the tests will be “quickly communicated” to families and staff, Jackson said. Data from the tests is available online.
Jackson said more than 20 percent of school-based staff chose not to participate last week, the first week teachers were called back to schools.
So far, data from Tuesday-Friday shows 469 tests were administered at 148 schools, with no positive results. The data shows there were 316 absent staff members who were supposed to be tested and 127 staff members refused to be tested after being offered.
The district will use the data to monitor the prevalence of COVID-19 among asymptomatic staff, Jackson said.
Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.