Thousands of ‘invalid’ COVID tests as CPS prepares to return from winter break – NBC Chicago

Thousands of COVID tests for students and staff at Chicago public schools have been found to be “invalid” as the district prepares for a return to classrooms after winter recess.

With an increase in cases statewide and in the district, the CPS reported that 35,590 tests were performed between Dec. 26 and Jan. 1, but 24,843 were found to be “invalid,” according to data published on the district website.

According to the Chicago Teachers Union, many parents have received emails from the company handling the tests indicating that some samples were rated “unsatisfactory” after being delayed in transport to the lab due to shipping and handling issues. weather situation.

“Delays between sampling and the actual processing of these samples ended up marring the test results,” the union said in a statement.

The CPS encouraged parents to have their students tested for COVID-19 during the winter break, with the district distributing around 150,000 take-home test kits to schools in communities hit hard by the pandemic.

Kits were distributed on December 17 to a total of 309 schools in areas designated as high risk for COVID-19 or to elementary schools in neighborhoods deemed to be medium risk.

The deadline to return these kits was originally set for December 28, but was extended to December 30 after parents and the Chicago Teachers Union reported overflowing drop boxes that left some families scrambling.

Testing is only required for unvaccinated students who traveled outside of Illinois during the period, unvaccinated students who are close contacts of a known COVID case, and all students – regardless of status vaccine – who show symptoms of COVID-19.

CTU on Thursday submitted a proposal requiring staff, students, vendors and volunteers to provide negative PCR results before returning to in-person learning, reinstate a “health screening policy” and calls on the district to provide KF94, KN95 or N95 Masks to all students and staff, among others.

As coronavirus cases skyrocket and concerns over the omicron variant raise concerns among parents, the CPS plans to bring its more than 300,000 students back to class on Monday, insisting its COVID-19 procedures will ensure the safety of students and staff.

Because a consensus was not reached, CTU asked the district to implement a two-week hiatus under the terms of last year’s security measure agreement. According to the union, the CPS hit the metric last week.

CPS CEO Pedro Martinez says the district has taken appropriate steps to keep students safe during in-person learning, including deep cleaning school buildings during winter break, offering COVID testing and by purchasing two million additional masks.

He and Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, have warned that the CPS could see an increase in COVID cases among students in January.

Martinez said if a high risk of transmission is shown, the CPS will switch to distance education, but in the meantime he has asked parents for patience as the district navigates back from winter vacation.

The CPS has also urged its students and their parents to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and for those who are eligible to receive their reminders. These injections remain the best protection against the virus, with the boosters offering protection against omicron in particular, according to health officials.

Martinez previously said the shots would bring “stability to our classrooms.” Other than that, we will have to take more conservative approaches. “

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