CHICAGO — As students get ready to go on winter break, the Chicago Teachers Union is raising concerns about the COVID-19 situation at a Grand Crossing school.
Friday is the last day of school for Chicago Public Schools before the holiday break, but the CTU says some classrooms are already virtually empty due to rising cases of COVID-19.
The CTU said there’s a crisis at Park Manor Elementary, which is among the 300 schools where CPS is providing take-home COVID-19 tests in an effort to stay ahead of the virus. According to the teachers union, 11 Park Manor students and five staff members tested positive for COVID-19 this week.
CTU says 70% of the school population is currently under quarantine, and the building was virtually empty Thursday.
CPS is distributing 150,000 take home COVID-19 tests. The tests are going to grade schools in neighborhoods hit hard by the pandemic.
School officials are urging parents to test their children on the Dec. 28, then drop samples in a FedEx drop box in order to get results in time for students to return to classes Jan. 3.
Park Manor is not the only school dealing with a rise in infections. Parent Avis Mooney said all but two classrooms at Carver Elementary on the Far South Side are quarantined right now.
“It started with my first grader, she was sent home. Then my fifth grader was sent home, then my third grader,” Mooney said. “It is very stressful because I have to work but I also have to be a mother.”
CPS reported its highest COVID-19 count last week. It had its highest daily count Monday, with 223 students and 59 adults testing positive.
Illinois also reported its highest daily number of COVID-19 cases — nearly 12,000. That’s a number not seen since November 2020.
Hospitalizations continue climbing. State health officials report 90% of people in the hospital were not vaccinated.
CPS said they continue to work alongside the health department to ensure their students’ safety.
“As Chicago struggles through pandemic surge, so too does CPS,” a statement from school officials said. “However, we know so much more now about what works than when the first wave began.”
CPS said despite Chicago’s surges in COVID-19 cases, in-school transmission of the virus within the district remains low.