Jan 24, 2022 - COVID

CPS addresses COVID under-counting charges

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

CPS officials did not respond to allegations of under-reporting COVID-19 cases in schools last week, but finally released a statement on it Friday night.

  • Officials said that after the winter break, they changed the kinds of cases they report at the school level. They stopped reporting new "open" cases and only reported "closed cases" that have already been "reviewed and investigated," which can take weeks.

Why it matters: Case numbers can determine whether or not individual schools switch to remote learning, a huge issue in the recent CTU/CPS standoff.

  • CPS officials did not alert anyone, including the CTU, that they were changing their counting methods even with cases currently soaring to record levels.
  • School level data is often what CPS parents use to assess their own family's situation.

Driving the news: CPS parent and software engineer Jakob Ondrey unleashed a detailed account of the alleged "intentional" under-reporting on Twitter.

  • It showed that CPS school level cases suddenly dropped around Jan. 4, when the CTU-CPS standoff was heating up.

What they're saying: CPS says it changed the way it reported school level cases to "protect the privacy" of students and staff.

The other side: "Privacy has nothing to do with not displaying this data, which is far more anonymous than class and school level notifications," Ondrey tells Axios, noting that he got two such notifications about infections in his kids' school last week.

  • "Nowhere in [CPS'] statement is an apology for misleading people. As a parent of students entrusted to their care almost every day, I will be waiting for THAT statement."
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