COVID safety remains important, even as people throughout the city begin to relax their vigilance. In fact, that relaxation is probably the reason why COVID cases in our schools have spiked these first few weeks of school. Keeping in mind that our school communities include students, families and colleagues with compromised immune systems and vulnerable family members, the measures outlined will likely be important throughout this school year.
Paid outreach continues
Contact tracing and testing outreach is still available as a paid activity. Remember that members can get paid for training and for phone banking at their non-instructional hourly rate of pay. The Covid Captain gets a $1,000 stipend to coordinate phone-banking for student testing and vaccine participation and outreach to families, parent groups and the LSC. Please be sure to document your hours as there hasn’t be total clarity on what buckets are being used to pay phone bankers. CPS has sent principals the form to identify contact tracers and will soon send out information on how to access training.
If you are a school that has a cluster of cases (3 or more covid positive cases in a single classroom or same area) the Chicago Department of Public Health should be providing additional mitigation and contact tracing support. Rapid tests will also be provided in greater supply for students and staff.
We are under the impression that the rapid tests are being distributed to students at most schools and this is helping to increase self reporting of covid infections. Please let us know if this is not happening. Principals are supposed to be able to request more rapid tests if your school runs out. If there are any challenges with the weekly screening testing or issues you are facing please complete the Testing Challenges and Issues reporting form to send them directly to the district and to the union using our form for COVID safety issues at the district level.
Encourage students and families to sign up for weekly PCR covid testing using the color.com registration form. By the end of last school year, CPS had nearly 35% of students signed up. As of the end of last week CPS was only at 6% signed up for this school year.
Replacement filters for the air quality purifiers were distributed to schools before the start of the school year. They should be getting installed or have already been replaced. If there are any issues your school should put in a work order with the building engineer.
Tracing and Vaccines
We have asked CPS to provide us with cases that are either self reported or Thermo Fisher detected on a school-by-school basis. This is intended to determine if there are additional supports required to help school communities manage Covid spread at this time.
The Biden administration just sent 150,000 new boosters to Chicago, for Omicron variant immunity, and we expect those to be made available to members, students, and families at city vaccine clinics, CPS regional vaccine clinics and school based health clinic sites in the coming weeks. CPS also continues to hold elementary school mobile vaccination clinics and high school and charter mobile vaccination clinics, per our agreement.
School Covid Safety Committees
School Covid Safety Committees remain essential to ensuring student and staff health. Remember that your safety committee should not just include admin and CTU members, but should also include representatives for maintenance staff, SECAs, lunchroom staff and any other groups. Please refresh yourself on the safety committee guidance we maintain at ctulocal1.org/safety. Although most issues should be addressed at the school level, safety committee members can access the form at ctulocal1.org/report to ask for help at the district level.