CPS reports most weekly COVID-19 cases since pandemic began, but the numbers remain low. Can they stay that way if schools reopen next quarter?

Chicago Public Schools on Monday reported the greatest number of COVID-19 cases tied to its more than 500 school buildings in any week since the pandemic closed them in March.

For the week ending Saturday, CPS reported that 29 adults who tested positive were in a school building when they were likely contagious. That brings the total to 119 cases at more than 90 schools since fall quarter began in September, including seven students, and 228 total cases since March.

Though students and most teachers have been learning or working from home, a limited number of staff have been reporting to buildings, such as clerks, security officers, technology coordinators, cafeteria workers, custodians and administrators.

Of the cases reported this quarter, most have been isolated, with 19 schools reporting two or more cases. Two elementary schools, Edwards and Pulaski, have each reported four cases, while three schools — Greeley Elementary, Hubbard High and Northside Prep — have each reported three cases, according to CPS data.

The rise in of COVID-19 cases tied to schools aligns with trends in the city and state. In Chicago, the daily positivity rate based on a seven-day rolling average was 7.1% Monday, up from 5.4% a week ago. The seven-day average of 703 new daily cases is a 39% increase from last week’s 506.

While recent studies have shown little correlation between open schools and outbreaks in some cities, the resurgence of cases in Chicago has raised concerns among educators and health officials as CPS figures out a plan for second quarter, which begins Nov. 9.

Meanwhile, numbers released Monday in the agenda for Wednesday’s Chicago Board of Education meeting show the school district estimates $116.3 million in COVID-19 related spending through Sept. 30, including $54.4 million attributed to a $75 million emergency authorization passed in the spring.

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