Unvaccinated Chicago students who travel out of state should stay out of school at least 7 days

A view of Chicago O’Hare airport as a jet is flying in. The flags of Chicago, Illinois, and the United States fly in the foreground.
The district said unvaccinated students who travel and self-quarantine will be marked as “excused” absences and given take-home schoolwork. (Kamil Krzaczynski / AFP via Getty Images)

Parents of unvaccinated children should “reconsider” travel plans they had for the long holiday weekend — and kids who leave the state shouldn’t come to classes for at least seven days, Chicago Public Schools leaders said late Thursday.

The district is urging local families to follow travel recommendations from the city’s health department and the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. But it didn’t send its updated guidance until Thursday night, as some families have already made plans or have even left for long-weekend trips.

CPS’ guidance says unvaccinated students who leave the state should stay out of school for seven days after returning, even if they get a negative test. Those students who don’t get tested are asked to self-quarantine for 10 days.

In an email to families, the district said Thursday that unvaccinated students who travel and self-quarantine will be marked as “excused” absences and given take-home schoolwork. Remote learning access, it said, is limited to students who are quarantined because they were in “close contact” with a confirmed positive COVID-19 case. 

“If you have an unvaccinated student, please consider your travel plans given this guidance,” interim CEO Jose Torres and Dr. Kenneth Fox, the district’s chief health officer, wrote in the letter to students’ parents and guardians.

The leaders’ recommendations:

  • The CDC recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated.
  • Unvaccinated persons who leave the state of Illinois, including children 11 and younger, should self-quarantine for seven days after returning to Chicago, even if they have received a negative COVID-19 test.
  • Unvaccinated students who leave the state should not go to school during the self-quarantine period, which is seven days if they get a negative COVID-19 test and 10 days if they do not get tested.
  • Vaccinated travelers do not have to self-quarantine or get tested unless they develop symptoms.

CPS just returned to in-person learning for most students Monday after more than a year of schools being largely closed due to the pandemic.

This week, the district reported 28 “actionable” COVID-19 cases in adults and 11 in students, according to its dashboard.

Chicago’s health department updated its travel guidance on Tuesday. Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady has urged unvaccinated people to stay home, as COVID-19 is surging throughout the United States. There is only one state — Vermont — that isn’t on the city’s travel advisory list.

Arwady said Tuesday the city is also now recommending unvaccinated people get tested before they travel and wear masks when in other places, even if they’re not required there.

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Unvaccinated people who travel should get tested three to five days after getting back to Chicago, and they should stay home and quarantine for a full seven days after their arrival even if they test negative, Arwady said.

Block Club Chicago is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. This story was republished with permission.

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