CHICAGO (CBS) – Tests, lines, positive, negative – words that we have probably all heard too much during the winter holidays.
It is undeniable that we are in the midst of another wave of COVID. So how do we move forward?
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CBS 2 investigator Megan Hickey looked into testing issues for Chicago public school children on Monday. We have learned that nearly 25,000 student test kits could not be processed.
Several parents have received notices of weather and vacation shipping issues, meaning the tests they gave their children and dropped off at FedEx stores last week were of no value at the time. where they arrived at the lab.
We showed you the piles of COVID-19 postal tests for CPS students gobbling up FedEx drop boxes last week. Many parents were concerned that precarious batteries would not reach labs for treatment.
“We don’t even know if they’re going to get away with this, or if they’re going to be compromised just sitting here unattended,” said Lorena Paredes, CPS parent.
And according to the latest data published on the Chicago Public Schools website, 35,816 tests were performed between Dec. 26 and Jan. 1 – but 24,986 were found to be “invalid.”
Many parents have received emails from the testing provider saying some of the samples had been delayed in transit due to “weather and holiday shipping issues.”
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Since the tests must be processed within 48 hours, these results are worthless.
Test provider COLOR told us that as a result, they have supported extended test filing hours as well as additional test days this week.
“When we saw the test photos stacked outside the drop boxes right there last week, it was a signal that we had a problem. Said Mercedes Carnethon, vice president of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Carnethon said she was concerned when she saw images of drop boxes overflowing with tests.
But she was also worried about the postal mail plan early on, as there was still a five or six day lag between the test sample being taken and the children arriving at school on Monday morning.
“What a nightmare,” said Carnethon. “The strategy of using a postal test during a busy time of the year for the postal service and when weather delays occur, was a flawed strategy from the start. And there was a great risk of what we saw happening today, that many children would return to classrooms and we don’t know their status.
Carnethon said parents who have been unable to obtain testing kits, or their kits have been invalidated, should always try to have their children tested at one of the city’s many community testing sites.
While CPS strongly encouraged students to test before returning to school, a negative test was not mandatory.
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Meanwhile, anecdotally, many parents have spoken on social media about keeping their children at home due to COVID infection rates or the testing issue. We reached out to CPS about Monday’s attendance numbers and were still waiting for a response early in the evening.