CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Public Schools on Friday announced that it will change its isolation policies for those who test positive for COVID-19, and quarantine policies for close contacts, from 10 days to five.
CPS said it made the decision based on guidance from the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention and the Illinois and Chicago departments of public health.
The change for all CPS students and staff will begin this coming Tuesday, Feb. 1.
It was in December that the CDC downgraded the isolation and quarantine times for those with positive COVID tests. The decision was controversial, and many medical experts called it short-sighted while speculating it may have had to do with workforce shortages at the height of the Omicron variant surge.
CPS explained that the CDC’s official guidance came about because most COVID-19 transmission “occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after.”
The shorter isolation and quarantine period will also “provide 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,” CPS said.
Under the new guidance, children who test positive for COVID-19 – regardless of vaccination status – must isolate and stay home for five days. If a child still has symptoms after day five, the child should stay home for another five days – or the full 10-day period.
If the child no longer has symptoms after five days, they may return to school on day six – though they must wear masks constantly, including outside, except when eating and drinking through day 10. When eating and drinking with a mask down, students must maintain six feet of social distance.
Children who are not vaccinated or up to date on COVID-19 vaccines and have been identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive will have to quarantine and learn at home for five days rather than 10. Children who are up to date with their vaccines and are close contacts will not have to quarantine at all.
For further information, CPS directed people to this website.
Reaction from the Chicago Teachers Union was not immediately available.