CPS Partners with CDPH to Strengthen COVID-19 Response Efforts
30 September 2021
District launches newly restructured COVID-19 Dashboard and webpage; more than doubles number of contact tracers, and completes roll-out of opt-in testing program to all schools
CHICAGO – As part of its ongoing commitment to further improve transparency, Chicago Public Schools (CPS), in partnership with the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), today announced a number of new measures aimed at strengthening its response to COVID-19, including the launch of a newly restructured COVID-19 Dashboard and dedicated webpage for one-stop access to vital COVID-19 resources.
Complementing the launch of the updated COVID-19 Dashboard and webpage, the District also announced that it’s in the process of doubling the number of contact tracers as it continues to scale-up efforts, and that it has met its goal of deploying the opt-in COVID-19 screening testing program to all schools by the end of the month.
“The health and safety of our CPS family is my top priority,” said new District CEO Pedro Martinez. “Our goal is to make sure our school community members are promptly informed of positive cases and know what next steps they need to take. The measures we’re announcing today will help further improve transparency and the lines of communication so that we can all move forward with confidence in the 2021-2022 school year and beyond.”
"With the full reopening of our schools and the return to five-days-a-week, in-person learning, we have been able to restore our students' access to the high-quality instruction they deserve. However, we have also heard the concerns of parents, teachers and others within our communities who are worried about the wellbeing of everyone at schools," said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. "As a parent, I too would want my child to be safe and I understand the distress many families are going through. That's why today, the City of Chicago, CPS and CDPH are working together to provide parents with clear and accurate updates through this new contact tracing dashboard and will continue ensuring the safety of everyone within our school communities."
Among the changes being made is the restructuring of data presented in the District’s COVID-19 Dashboard. Beginning today, the Dashboard will provide updates on all reported cases of COVID-19 among District staff and students within 24-hours of report, and will include self-reports and positive COVID-19 results found through the CPS screening testing program. The previous dashboard reported cases closed by the CPS contact tracing team. Because CPS is expanding the criteria for cases that will be included in the total from closed cases to all reported cases, the number on the dashboard will experience a one-time spike. This increase should not be interpreted as evidence of an outbreak or increased spread.
Another key distinction within the new COVID-19 Dashboard is the tally of individuals quarantined or isolated -- in other words, those who are on the no admittance list of District schools each day, which includes both isolated positive individuals and quarantined close contacts. Listing the number of quarantined individuals provides a more accurate picture versus the previous dashboard that reflected all close contacts identified, which is a much broader number than those who are quarantined.
”Raw numbers of close contacts without context are not helpful for the public. Close contacts can be vaccinated adults and students who are not being asked to quarantine as long as they are symptom free after being identified as a close contact, which is in alignment with CDC guidance,” said CPS Senior Program Manager, Dr. Alexandra Sontag, FNP. “By adjusting our data to reflect only those on the no admittance list, we are providing a more accurate picture of who is affected, which is an important distinction for families looking into the status of their school.”
To help streamline communication among District stakeholders, CPS has consolidated all district COVID-19 resources to live within the new cps.edu/covid web page—providing quick, one-stop access to all COVID-19 related data, COVID testing consent, frequently asked questions, and other relevant information, including scheduling of vaccination appointments.
These changes align with efforts by CPS to complete the expansion of its opt-in COVID-19 screening testing program to all schools District-wide. Registration for this optional COVID-19 testing program has increased in recent weeks to nearly 31,000. Thermo Fisher Scientific, the vendor administering tests for CPS, has planned for COVID-19 testing to be available at every CPS school by October 1st. CPS continues to work closely with its vendor to ensure they continue to have the resources needed to meet the growing demand for those opting into the testing program.
CPS has already issued updated internal and external communications to inform stakeholders of these changes and updated resources.
Visit cps.edu/covid to view the new Dashboard and all related COVID-19 resources.