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Chicago Public Schools to Implement Shorter Isolation & Quarantine

31 January 2022

 Five-Day Isolation & Quarantine for New Cases Starts Feb. 1 

CPS Office of Communications

Phone: 773-553-1620
Twitter: @chipubschools
Facebook: chicagopublicschools

CHICAGO - Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will begin to implement the most recent federal, state and city isolation and quarantine guidance, moving from a period of 10 to five days for those staff or students who test positive for COVID-19 or are unvaccinated close contacts on Feb. 1 or after.

“We are implementing this shorter isolation and quarantine period in concert with all the other layers of protection at the school level, including universal masking, social distancing, and good hand hygiene,” said CPS CEO Pedro Martinez. “A swift return to in-person instruction gives faculty and students the best opportunity to teach and learn - and thrive amid their school community.”

From the onset of the pandemic, the District has followed the guidance and recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH).

A shorter isolation period is now recommended because the majority of COVID-19 transmission “occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the one to two days prior to onset of symptoms and the two to three days after,” according to the CDC.  Also, the time between exposure to the virus and when symptoms occur is shorter than previously understood– especially for the Omicron variant. At the same time, safely shortening the isolation/quarantine period provides more certainty to parents, students, and staff, and will allow impacted students to return to their classrooms more quickly for the in-person learning that gives them their best opportunity for success.

Like the current procedures, the move to a five-day quarantine will impact students differently, depending on COVID-19 vaccination status, symptoms and confirmed infection, as follows:

  • Children who test positive for COVID-19, regardless of their vaccination status, will need to isolate and learn at home for five days rather than 10. If the child still has symptoms after day five, they should continue to isolate at home until Day 10. If the child no longer has symptoms after day five, the child will be free to return to school on Day 6 with the following precautions in place:
    • From days six - 10, students will keep their masks on at all times, including while outdoors, except when eating or drinking. 

    • When masks must be removed for eating and drinking, these students will maintain six feet of social distance from others wherever possible.

  • Children who are not yet vaccinated, and who have been identified as close contacts of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, will need to quarantine and learn at home for five days rather than 10.
  • Children who are fully vaccinated, and who have been identified as close contacts of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 will not have to be quarantined at all.

Students who are directed to isolate or quarantine by the Office of Student Health and Wellness (OSHW) will continue to receive direct instruction from their teachers while they are learning at home.

Getting children vaccinated is not only the best way to keep them in school — it’s the best way to protect them from being infected with COVID-19, and the best way to prevent severe symptoms if they do become infected.  To date, the majority of CPS students ages 12 and up (nearly 53%) are now fully vaccinated and 1 in 3 students ages 5 - 11 have now received at least one vaccine dose. More than 90 percent of CPS staff are fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, weekly on-site testing is continuing to increase across the District with more than 55,000 people now tested per week and steady progress toward each school testing at least 10 percent of their student population.