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CPS to families traveling for Thanksgiving: Unvaccinated kids must quarantine

The district says that kids who haven’t gotten their COVID-19 shots and who travel out of state to areas with high transmission must isolate for seven days upon their return.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez during a press conference at the Chicago Public Schools headquarters in the Loop, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Chicago Public Schools issued reminders this week to families traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend: if your kids are unvaccinated and they visit a state with a high level of COVID-19 transmission, they’ll have to quarantine when they get back.

In an email to district parents this week, CPS CEO Pedro Martinez issued the warning after cases have skyrocketed in recent weeks around the country.

“As you prepare to gather with friends and family this Thanksgiving, please be mindful of Chicago’s Travel Advisory,” Martinez wrote in the email sent Tuesday.

Illinois along with all states in the Midwest are currently experiencing high transmission rates, defined as a daily case count of more than 15 per 100,000 residents for at least two consecutive weeks. The only locations that aren’t included are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, as well as Washington, D.C. and the Virgin Islands.

“Any unvaccinated person returning from a high-risk state should strongly consider getting tested for COVID-19 3 to 5 days after returning, and should self-quarantine for 7 to 10 days depending on the results,” Martinez wrote.

CPS rules state that even students that test negative must stay home for a full seven days. Those who test positive, or don’t get tested, must quarantine for at least 10 days.

“Remember, we have it within our power to protect ourselves and our school communities from the potential surge of COVID-19 that is expected around the holidays,” Martinez wrote.

Martinez encouraged families to vaccinate their children now that the federal government approved shots for all kids 5 and older.

“I am also grateful that my own two children have now received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine,” he told families. “This gives me great peace of mind as we prepare to celebrate the holidays, and I know that many of our CPS families feel the same. I hope that parents who have not yet taken this step will strongly consider the vaccine so that all of our children can enjoy a safe, healthy holiday season that is free of worry and filled with joy.”

Vaccinated students are not required to quarantine unless they experience symptoms.

Vaccine sites can be found at vaccines.gov.