Positive COVID-19 test linked to in-person SAT exam at Lane Tech high school last week

At least one person who was at Lane Tech College Prep during SAT testing last week has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to an email from principal Brian Tennison. The email did not make clear how the person is associated with the school.

a large brick building with grass and trees: Someone who was present during an SAT exam given at Lane Tech last week has tested positive for coronavirus. The school is shown in a 2016 photograph.

© Phil Velasquez / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Someone who was present during an SAT exam given at Lane Tech last week has tested positive for coronavirus. The school is shown in a 2016 photograph.

“A person who was at our school campus tested positive for COVID-19,” states a letter Friday morning to the Lane Tech community. In bold, the letter adds: “We are sending this notification for your awareness, and you do not need to take any further action at this time.”

The school was cleaned and sanitized, according to the letter.

“As a reminder, we can slow the spread of COVID-19 as a school community by social distancing whenever possible, wearing masks in public, washing our hands thoroughly, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick,” Tennison wrote.

CPS said last month there have been 258 known COVID-19 cases among school staff and vendors, including eight deaths, through Sept. 8 but has not provided a school breakdown.

CPS has also not released information on COVID-19 cases at schools since fall quarter began, but the union has identified cases at Funston, Canty and Mount Greenwood elementary schools, along with Lane Tech.

Though classes have been remote since mid-March at many school districts in the region, thousands of high school students across the Chicago area returned to schools last Wednesday to take the college admissions exam.

While many colleges and universities are suspending SAT and ACT test requirements during the pandemic, the Illinois State Board of Education has defended the decision to keep the SAT as a high school graduation requirement while allowing districts to seek exemptions for individual students.

The Chicago Teachers Union, critical of holding tests in person and using teachers as proctors, had called for a waiver for CPS, posting on its website: “During this stressful time, CPS should not ask seniors to endure the additional stress of taking a test where what they have learned takes a back seat to their ability to answer multiple choice questions.”

District officials, however, countered that offering the exams was necessary to give students the best shot at success after high school and that they have to follow ISBE regulations anyway. Thousands of students were planning to take canceled exams in the spring, according to CPS.

The day before testing, the district said 88 schools were expecting 6,500 students, who were required to wear masks except when eating or drinking, as is anyone else in a school building. Rooms were sanitized before and after testing, and staff and students were supposed to pass an online health screener and temperature check to get in the door.

CPS officials said students testing were seated six feet apart, with additional capacity limits. But, according to the district, testing and proctoring were both optional. The district had schools ask for staff volunteers to help proctor the tests and seek substitutes if they didn’t have enough volunteers.



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