Traveling out of state for Labor Day? Unvaccinated CPS students must quarantine — with no access to remote learning — when they return

CPS announced the abrupt policy change on Thursday night before the holiday weekend.

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Students and parents wait in line as students return to school on the first day of classes at Alessandro Volta Elementary School 4950 N Avers Ave. in Albany Park, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.

Students and parents wait in line as students return to school on the first day of classes at Alessandro Volta Elementary School 4950 N Avers Ave. in Albany Park, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.

Anthony Vázquez/Sun-Times

Unvaccinated Chicago Public Schools students who travel out of state over Labor Day weekend will have to quarantine for a week once they return and won’t have access to remote learning, officials announced late this week.

The school system said the new guidance would help mitigate against the spread of COVID-19 cases in schools following the holiday. But for families that had made plans or already left the state, the abrupt policy change on a Thursday night before the holiday was a source of frustration.

Some principals as recently as Thursday afternoon had reminded parents of the district’s rules about out-of-state travel: Kids who haven’t gotten a COVID-19 shot would need to submit proof of a negative test if they wanted to return to school Tuesday.

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But later that night, word came from CPS leadership that the district would scrap that policy and adopt the Chicago Department of Public Health’s updated guidance that had been released earlier in the week.

Now all unvaccinated students who go to a state on the city’s travel advisory list should quarantine for seven days, even if they test negative for the virus, CPS announced. As it stands, every state other than Vermont is on the do-not-travel list. Illinois has similar rates of infection as the states on Chicago’s travel advisory.

If families travel and opt not to have the children tested once they return, the isolation period increases to 10 days. Their absences will be marked excused, but those students won’t be allowed to participate in their classes remotely. They’ll instead receive take-home schoolwork — starting their second day of quarantine — “that will help them keep pace with their learning,” CPS said.

“If you have an unvaccinated student, please reconsider your travel plans given this guidance,” the district wrote.

CPS reopened for full in-person learning this week for the first time in 17 months. The district has reported 62 adult infections and 22 student cases over the past two weeks.

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