Chicago Public Schools

Deadline to Return CPS COVID Test Kits Extended After Reports of Overflowing Drop Boxes

CPS announced Tuesday that it added an additional drop-off location for families and extended the deadline to return test kits at designated libraries to 5 p.m. Thursday

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NBC Chicago

The deadline for parents to return COVID test kits for Chicago Public Schools students during the winter break has been extended at some locations after parents and the city's teachers union reported overflowing drop boxes Tuesday.

CPS announced Tuesday that it added an additional drop-off location for families and extended the deadline to return test kits at designated libraries to 5 p.m. Thursday.

"CPS families are encouraged to send in at-home test results even after today and/or to pursue testing on their own at free testing sites available across the city," the district said in a release, adding that it was "encouraged by the number of families who have submitted test kits so far." "Families should use these tests – either antigen (rapid) or PCR tests – to prevent sending their children with community-acquired infections to school."

The extension comes after parents and the Chicago Teachers Union reported overflowing drop boxes that left some parents scrambling.

"Because boxes are overflowing, families are scrambling to find safe and secure places to leave their kits. The deadline for return is today," CTU tweeted Tuesday.

After CPS reported its highest weekly COVID-19 case count earlier this month, the district announced plans to distribute about 150,000 take-home test kits to schools in communities hit hard by the pandemic. Kits were distributed on Dec. 17 to a total of 309 schools in areas designated high risk for COVID-19 or elementary schools in neighborhoods deemed medium risk.

Families who received the kits were originally encouraged to test students by Tuesday to allow enough time to get results before students return from winter break Jan. 3, according to the school district.

Families can now drop off test kits at the following Chicago Public Library locations between noon and 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday:

  • Englewood: Kelly Branch, 6151 S. Normal Blvd.
  • South Shore: South Shore Branch, 2505 E. 73rd St.
  • Auburn Gresham: Thurgood Marshall Branch, 7506 S. Racine Ave.
  • Southeast Side: Vodak-East Side Branch, 3710 E. 106th St.
  • Austin: Austin Branch, 5615 W. Race Ave.
  • Altgeld Gardens: Altgeld Branch, 933 E. 131st Place

The new drop-off location will be at the Garfield Ridge Branch, located at 6348 S. Archer Ave.

In an email to the district community Sunday, CPS encouraged parents to "strongly consider getting your child tested for COVID-19" before school resumes, especially if your family has traveled or your child is feeling sick.

CPS CEO Pedro Martinez said last week that officials “know that there’s going to be cases rising” over the next few weeks and predicted a “sustained period of time, at least during January, of higher cases.” While the district said it does predict some classrooms and possibly even entire schools may switch to remote learning as cases rise in the new year, a district-wide shift to remote learning is not expected.

The district has also urged its students and parents to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and for those eligible to receive their boosters. Those shots remain the best protection against the virus, with boosters in particular offering protection against omicron.

Martinez said shots would bring “stability in our classrooms. Short of that, we’re going to have to take more conservative approaches.”

NBC Chicago/Chicago Sun-Times
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