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Scroll down for important updates on care room attendants — they’re staying — as well as spikes in COVID and other dangerous viruses, safety recommendations (including vaccines, masking), and how to report safety issues in your school.

CPS will fund Care Room Attendants:

Clarification from HOD: CPS has not discontinued Care Room Attendant funding at this point. According to CPS, at least 400 schools still have operating Care Rooms. CPS has said they will be doing an assessment this month to evaluate how Care Rooms are being utilized.

We urge PPCs and Safety Committees to discuss this with your administration and press for the continuation of these rooms, whether district funded or locally supported.

Chicago seeing Covid-19, flu spikes as RSV also circulates:

The city is poised to upgrade the Covid threat level to high ahead of the holiday season and the combination of respiratory viruses, the flu and new strains of Covid make for a dangerous combination of risks for students and staff. As a result of the respiratory nature of these illnesses, it’s important that all school facilities have good air quality and a generally safe environment.

Here are some of the data points we’re tracking:

  • On December 14, 84% of the city’s intensive care unit beds were occupied, and Lurie Children’s Hospital was about 90% full (though down from 99% a few weeks ago).
  • Covid-19 Cases reported among CPS students and staff last week were the highest levels since the first weeks of this school year.
  • Flu is also spreading widely this season, higher than at any point last year.
  • RSV cases spiked at the start of school, and while currently decreasing, it is still circulating at a high level, and at the same time influenza is spreading amongst younger populations.

CDPH recommends vaccination, masking, testing, hand-washing, and staying home if sick

The CTU met with the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) this week. In response to questions on how to best contend with spikes in Covid, flu and RSV, they recommend students and staff get covid and flu vaccines, remind students to wash their hands regularly, encourage masking, demand tissue so students are not inadvertently wiping nasal discharge on others, and encourage everyone to stay at home when sick.

About 72 percent of reported cases in CPS are because families are self-reporting when a child gets Covid. Of those, 43 percent used a CPS-issued rapid test. Please continue to encourage students and parents to pick up tests from your school and to use these tests on a regular basis. Ask your administration to order more from Central Office if your school runs out.

CDPH is continuing to conduct an extra layer of contact tracing in schools with outbreaks. Previously, their contact tracing was triggered when there were 3 cases in a classroom over a 7-day period. Now, they will conduct contact tracing if there are 5 cases within 7 days. This is above and beyond the contact tracing that CTU members can conduct via our MOU and safety committees. Please let us know if your school community needs contact tracing resources that are not being provided.

Only 3 percent of three- to four-year-olds in CPS have taken full advantage of vaccine access — half the already very low citywide rate among children that age. And just last week, in fact, the FDA expanded its authorization for the Bivalent Covid-19 Vaccine to children between 6 months and 5 years old. Please remind students, families and colleagues that there are an abundance of Covid and Flu vaccines available throughout the city. People can use the district’s portal to book an appointment to receive initial shots and boosters. Walk-ins are also available. Check out the CPS district portal’s options here.

Report problems!

Use the tools we’ve developed through our safety agreements with CPS to protect your members, students and school communities.

If there are any challenges with weekly Covid testing or other issues you’re facing, please complete the Testing Challenges and Issues reporting form to inform CPS and CTU of any issues or concerns. To report incidents that a School Safety Committee has tried to resolve with their administration without success, use our form for COVID safety issues at the district level. Please only report incidents that have already been reported to your administration for at least 24 hours and preferably 48 hours (if the urgency of the situation allows).

The CTU Safety page also has a wealth of information and links to helpful toolkits and forms. Check it out at ctulocal1.org/safety.

In solidarity,

CTU Safety Committee