CPS, CDPH Announce Comprehensive Student Vaccination Strategy
13 July 2021
In Partnership with CDPH, CPS Will Convert Three Staff Vaccination Sites to Serve Students & Families Beginning the Week of July 12 and Provide Vaccination Opportunities to Students and their Families in their Communities this Summer and During the Upcoming School Year
CHICAGO - Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) today announced a comprehensive approach to vaccinating eligible students against COVID-19 this summer and during the 2021-22 school year. These efforts will expand the district’s partnership with CPDH and other approved healthcare partners to vaccinate students and their families by converting three staff vaccination sites, vaccinating eligible students who are enrolled in summer programming, and providing vaccination opportunities at district-run community events, such as Back-to-School Bashes.
“Our city has made great strides in keeping our COVID-19 positivity rate low—an achievement that is a testament to more and more residents getting vaccinated," said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. "Expanding vaccination opportunities for CPS students and their families will allow us to build on this tremendous progress and serves as our city's latest effort to turn the chapter on the COVID-19 pandemic in the most equitable way possible.”
“My top priority is helping our schools prepare to provide five days of in-person instruction for students this fall and we are spending our summer working to engage students and families to prepare for the upcoming school year,” said interim CPS CEO Dr. José M. Torres. “Schools are trusted pillars of our communities, and as a district we are uniquely suited to help expand vaccination opportunities, which helps create the safest possible learning environments at our schools.”
Currently, all students ages 12 and older are eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine and students 18 and older are also eligible for the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. As part of the district’s commitment to equity, its vaccination efforts in the coming months will prioritize serving communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic as well as targeting outreach for students in temporary living situations (STLS) and other vulnerable populations. The district’s efforts complement CDPH and the City of Chicago’s youth vaccination and outreach strategy, which includes partnering with educators and community-based organizations to bring vaccines to families in the neighborhoods with the lowest vaccination rates. Youth can also get vaccinated at local pharmacies, with their primary care provider, and at local clinics.
“While more than 50,000 children under the age of 18 have been vaccinated in Chicago, this accomplishment has not been shared equally across all of our neighborhoods,” said CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D. “That’s why our expanded vaccination opportunities through CPS aims to boost vaccination rates among students especially in communities that need additional support the most.”
The district’s strategy over the summer and next school year is informed by its successful efforts to vaccinate staff, students, and families in partnership with CDPH and through student vaccination efforts which have included Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) volunteers as well as many other partners. Since staff vaccination sites launched in February, the district has provided nearly 20,000 vaccine doses with approximately 78 percent of staff fully or partially vaccinated based on self-reported data as of July 2. Additionally, in May and June, the district hosted vaccination events at 15 elementary and high schools, administering over 1,400 vaccinations with a focus on supporting CPS families on the South and West Sides of the city.
Comprehensive Plan to Vaccinate Students this Summer
In advance of the upcoming school year, the district will provide multiple opportunities for students and their families to get vaccinated in ways that are easily accessible and convenient for them. This comprehensive strategy employs both standing vaccination sites, which provide stable locations in a trusted school location, while also making vaccines available at existing CPS events and other locations with high numbers of students, such as summer programming.
Standing School-Based Vaccination Sites for Families Beginning the Week of July 12
At the core of these efforts, the district will convert three of its current school-based vaccination sites—Chicago Vocational Career Academy in Avalon Park; Michele Clark High School in Austin; and Theodore Roosevelt High School in Albany Park—to specifically support CPS students and families. These sites will be open weekly from 9:00 a.m. — 1:00 p.m. throughout the Summer, starting the week of July 12. Having standing vaccination sites provides a steady location where parents and families can come at a time that works best for their schedule. Through these vaccination sites, the district can administer up to 600 first doses of vaccine per week.
Families seeking additional information and registration should visit cps.edu/vaccinations. Appointments will be available through an online portal, and walk-ins will also be accepted. The vaccine is free, and no proof of insurance nor citizenship is required to get vaccinated. A parent or guardian is required to be present during COVID-19 vaccination for anyone under 18. While each site is open to all CPS families, the district will also be conducting targeted outreach to families who attend schools in the vicinity of the vaccination sites.
Bringing Vaccination Opportunities to Students and Families in Their Communities
To supplement school-based vaccination sites, the district’s strategy also deploys mobile vaccination units to serve students and communities that need them the most. In order to effectively reach STLS and other vulnerable student populations, the district will be deploying partner providers such as Advocate Aurora, University of Chicago Hospitals, CIMPAR, and Lurie Children’s Hospital directly to schools throughout the summer. Each of these partner providers will hold vaccination events at schools with large STLS populations that are located in communities with low vaccination rates. As part of these efforts, the district will coordinate times and dates with individual school communities and support direct outreach to STLS students.
The district will also provide vaccination opportunities at existing high-volume events, such as the district’s annual Back-to-School Bashes, each of which will serve as an opportunity for students and families to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. On top of providing vaccinations, these bashes offer free school supplies and information on academic programs, enrollment procedures, and other topics relating to the upcoming school year to help families prepare for a successful return to school. More information about these bashes can be found here. Based on mobile provider capacity and demand, the district will also coordinate vaccination opportunities at other high-volume events such as Freshman Connection.
The district also encourages families to review the city’s calendar of COVID-19 vaccination events, which is separated by region and updated regularly, to find additional vaccination opportunities that are convenient for them. Parents/guardians are also encouraged to speak with their child's pediatrician to determine if vaccines are available through their provider.
Looking Toward Next School Year
Beyond its goal of vaccinating as many eligible students as possible over the summer, the district also plans to establish standing school-based vaccination sites across the city starting in September. These sites will be located in neighborhoods with low vaccination rates and be informed by input from parents and families as well as data from the district’s efforts over the summer to equitably support CPS’ highest-need communities.
Additionally, the district will continue directly deploying its partner providers to schools after the school year begins, with a goal of supporting students in high-need elementary and high schools during school hours. Schools will be prioritized for these visits based on the vaccination rates of their surrounding communities and their percentages of STLS and students enrolled in cluster programs.
Schools are uniquely positioned as pillars of their communities, and our vaccination efforts support the broader goal of vaccinating as many eligible youth as possible. While the district is not in a position to mandate COVID-19 vaccination, which is a responsibility that lies with the Illinois Department of Public Health per state law, looking ahead to the fall we will be asking families to submit vaccine information, as we do with other vaccines, such as Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR).
For more information about the district’s current and future efforts to vaccinate its students, staff, and families, please visit cps.edu/vaccinations.
Chicago Public Schools serves 341,000 students in 638 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.