Chicago Schools are Cautious This Fall Due to Low COVID-19 Rates

Chicago High School for the Arts students in Humboldt Park are taking additional measures for their winter dance exhibition, a modern take on “The Nutcracker.”

At a public school rehearsal on Monday, several dancers donned masks. Junior Hayley Alexander says they’re being careful since COVID-19 instances spike around the holidays. Opening night is coming up.

“It’s voluntary, but we just want to make sure there’s no case spike,” Hayley added. “Don’t miss the performance because you’re unwell.” That stinks.”

Federal Health Experts are Optimistic About Winter

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a White House advisor, stated that “we are not going to see a recurrence of what we saw last year,” when the Omicron variety overwhelmed hospitals across the country. The epidemic continues.

Due to rising incidences, Chicago and Cook County went from “low” to “medium” COVID-19 risk categories following Thanksgiving. The flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) have hospitalised thousands of youngsters countrywide, and health authorities are watching the surge.

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The DuPage County Health Department claimed several children had to be moved to other hospitals after waiting hours to be examined.

After years of disruption, Chicago public schools have allowed performances of “The Nutcracker” and a virtually regular school year this autumn despite these health concerns.

Last autumn, students returned to school full-time, but COVID-19 quarantine, mask wearing, and lost days plagued the year.

For the first time since 2020, ChiArts has staged all its big productions due to a looser autumn.

Face-to-Face Instead of on Zoom

In a third-floor studio, Hayley added, “I’m just super-excited for the show.” “I’m excited to perform.”

Hayley moved from Art in Motion Charter School, which also had pandemic-related school performances last year. She enjoys seeing her peers “face-to-face instead of on Zoom.”

K–12 kids still undervaccinate despite broad availability. About 160 Chicago public schools have fewer than 20% of children immunised. Charter, alternative, and contract schools like ChiArts have even lower rates. 43% of these students have had two injections. ChiArts students are 73% vaccinated.

Low booster rates 13% of citywide 5- to 11-year-olds had received a booster. COVID alters our bodies to outwit our immune system. “That means it’s extremely important that patients keep up-to-date on their immunizations,” said University of Chicago paediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. Daniel Johnson.

Johnson thinks a Christmas surge may be milder this winter, but it’s too early to know. He claimed authorities were prepared for a new, hazardous variety.

“We’ve been with Omicron for over a year. “We’ll go to the next letter in the alphabet, the next variety,” Johnson remarked. That will strain our healthcare system.

Youngsters should be Vaccinated and Given Booster Shots

He advises washing hands, wearing masks in crowds, and staying home if unwell.
Flu has long been discussed.”We’ll speak about COVID forever,” Johnson stated. “It’s staying.”

COVID-19 in Chicago schools has been slow-burning this fall. Since school started, CPS has documented approximately 7,000 student COVID-19 instances. Since then, fewer than 300 pupils per week have tested positive or reported cases.

Only 23 Near North Side Franklin Elementary Fine Arts Center kids have tested positive or reported a case this year. Fully immunised students make up 65%.

Principal Elizabeth Wontor-Leach said the school sent COVID-19 test kits home with every kid before Thanksgiving to minimise a rise in cases and may do so again before winter break.

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We must remember that the epidemic is ongoing. “And now we have to look at other things and make sure we have preventative measures in place so we don’t end up like we did two years ago,” she added.

Franklin “reimagined” performing spaces during the epidemic. This year is “a bit more typical,” and the school plans to expand its winter performance attendance.

Wontor-Leach asserted that the arts heal.Being able to provide such experiences has allowed us to rebuild that sense of community.


The winter dance exhibition at ChiArts last year required students to wear masks. Students were allowed two audience members. COVID-19 metrics have improved. A school spokesman reported 31 COVID-19-positive pupils this year.

Masks may remain off for performances and entire audiences. This fall, the school staged a visual arts display, an acting showcase, and an arts festivalisual arts display, an acting showcase, and an arts festival. Jazz, opera, and percussion performances are planned for December.

Since 2016, ChiArts dance and theatre teacher Nicole Scatchell has stated that campus was “starting to feel like it used to” before the epidemic, with students making their own health and preventative decisions.

“Obviously, we were back in the building last year, so we’ve got some experience getting readjusted,” she added. I believe people are more aware of their health. However, it seems normal.”

On Monday, dance teacher Ted Seymour conducted practise for “The Nutcracker,” which plays Dec. 8–9. Seniors sneak into a party before winter break and get stuck in a blizzard. Tchaikovsky’s classics will be interpreted in each part, including a jazzy, Duke Ellington-style “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.”

Seymour stated the institution follows Chicago’s artistic community’s COVID-19 safety guidelines.

“I still attend events and would estimate at least 50% of any given crowd is masked, but you’re not having to watch performers disguised,” he added. “They’re living their creative dream and giving you the finest entertainment.” It’s fair.”

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