Abbott Laboratories and SHIELD Illinois will provide COVID-19 tests to Chicago Public Schools, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Saturday, as the CPS and Chicago Teachers Union standoff over coronavirus protocols and remote learning continued with no immediate end in sight.
In a tweet Saturday, Pritzker thanked Robert Ford, the CEO of Illinois-based Abbott, and the SHIELD team for providing 350,000 rapid antigen tests to CPS, saying he’s committed to “seeing our kids and teachers safely in classrooms ASAP.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot tweeted, “Thank you @GovPritzker for agreeing to sell @ChiPubSchools 350,000 antigen tests,” but didn’t provide additional information.
Bloomberg News reported that Pritzker previously asked the Biden administration for COVID tests to help resolve the ongoing dispute that has resulted in at least three days of canceled classes.
“Parents are suffering, children are suffering when they can’t get back in school and I understand teachers need to be safe in school as kids are,” he previously said. “The parties need to come together and find common middle ground and I have not yet seen that but I am hopeful.”
Testing availability has been a point of contention in the battle over whether remote learning should resume amid the latest surge in COVID cases. Unless a major breakthrough in negotiations occurs, classes will be canceled for a fourth school day Monday, CPS previously stated.
CTU has proposed that in-person learning could resume Jan. 18, unless Chicago and Illinois health officials determine gathering is unsafe amid the COVID surge.
In a statement Saturday, CPS said both sides are “growing closer on many important issues” and it’s “confident that continued negotiations will support the return to in-person learning next week.”
“Students need to be back in their schools, where it’s safe, as soon as possible,” the statement continued. “That’s what parents want. That’s what the science supports.”