Health officials are seeing an uptick in positive COVID-19 cases as Chicago-area high schools resume in-person learning, but the origin of the cases varies by school.
There are currently 12 active cases at John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, according to school officials. They said 147 students are in quarantine.
“Everybody that’s reported positive infections has told us they were with groups of kids without masks on in basements or in eating places, like a sandwich shop or something like that,” said principal Gordie Sisson.
Sisson said no one is seriously ill and there have been no hospitalizations. He said what is happening at Hersey High School does not meet Cook County’s definition of an outbreak, because there are not five or more linked cases.
The Illinois Department of Public Health is currently monitoring 21 school outbreaks and some may be linked to sports.
“While it is difficult to determine where an exposure occurred, we are hearing during investigations about people unmasked in locker rooms, weight rooms, social gatherings, bus rides and even on the field [not wearing or improperly worn masks],” said IDPH spokesperson Melaney Arnold. “Additionally, some athletes are playing while symptomatic and not getting tested for fear of missing playing time or quarantine.”
The Lake County Health Department said cases have recently doubled among children who are between 14 and 18 years old and spread could lead to infection in family members.
“We really need to make sure that our children, if they are eligible to get vaccinated, are vaccinated,” said Dr. Sana Ahmed of the Lake County Health Department. “That in the interim, we are very cognizant that we are practicing those three W’s of wearing a mask, washing your hands and watching your distance.”