Aug 30, 2022 - COVID

CPS COVID cases triple

Illustration of a stack of wooden toy blocks showing a syringe, a COVID cell and a cotton swab.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

CPS reported three times as many COVID-19 cases during the first week of this school year as it did a year earlier.

Why it matters: The highly contagious BA. 5 variant is dominating local cases, and CPS has weakened COVID precautions. That irks at least one local doctor.

"I don't think it's surprising we have higher numbers of COVID compared to last year," Dr. Tina Tan of Lurie Children's Hospital told ABC-7, noting the surge of BA.5 and reduced protocols.

Driving the news: CTU rank and file voted last week to adopt a new COVID safety agreement that largely mirrors the last agreement. It's expected to be signed this week.

  • Chicago Teachers Union vice president Jackson Potter says the union has advocated to "immediately re-impose a mask mandate if they see a spread," but did not indicate what level of spread would warrant a renewed mandate.

The other side: CPS officials currently "strongly recommend" masking and say it will be required for:

  • Individuals who return to class for 10 days after their positive COVID test.
  • Entire elementary school classes for 10 days after students are exposed in the classroom.
  • Entire high school classrooms for 10 days after exposure if the class has more than three cases.

Of note: A judge on the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board ruled Friday that CPS had violated state law by unilaterally dropping the district's mask mandate last March.

Zoom out: As one of the last states to drop school mask mandates, Illinois saw a smaller percentage of children develop COVID.

Image credit: Data: CDC; Map: Simran Parwani/Axios
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