BREAKING: Person on Lane campus last week for SAT tests positive for COVID-19


Finley Williams

Students wait to enter Lane in order to take the Sept. 23 SAT. There were no markers on the ground delineating six feet, nor many teachers or parent volunteers keeping students socially distant.

By Finley Williams, Editor-in-Chief

After Lane administered the SAT on campus on Sept. 23 to around 580 seniors, news quickly followed of a positive coronavirus case.

According to an Oct. 1 email sent from CPS to the parents of students who attended school that day, “A person who was present at Lane Tech HS on September 23rd tested positive for COVID-19. Out of an abundance of caution, we are reaching out to anyone who was at Lane Tech HS during the date of concern.”

The email further specified whether the recipient was in “close contact” with the infected person, meaning that they would have been within six feet for more than fifteen consecutive minutes.

However, The Warrior has received reports from students that not all parents of students who attended the test actually got the email. This morning, though, to inform the entire Lane Tech community of the positive case, Principal Brian Tennison sent a community message to all teachers, students and parents.

Tennison told The Warrior in an email that the school administration is not able to discuss the specifics of the case because any communication about the case “must be approved by CPS communication due to the federally protected privacy issues.”

It is unclear, then, approximately when the infected person contracted the coronavirus and how the school determined precisely who was in close contact with the infected person.

Tennison told The Warrior that the school kept detailed records of which students were assigned to which rooms. However, there were no markers delineating six feet where students lined up outside of the building, and this reporter did not observe any teacher or parent volunteers monitoring students outside of the building at Door N. Multiple students who reported to other entrances said that there were some adults watching students outside the building, but they did not enforce social distancing guidelines.

Because of this, the person, if a student (Lane cannot reveal exactly who tested positive), may have been in contact with others while waiting to enter the school.

Before the date of the test, the school provided a detailed document, and multiple emails, regarding how students were expected to maintain social distancing protocols, and there were signs outside the building reminding students to wear masks. Inside the building, there were six-feet markers on the floor, as well as signage with information about social distancing, handwashing and other proper protocols.

Tennison said that the school “followed to the best of our ability all [Office of Student Health and Wellness] guidelines, and used all the volunteers we could get to help ensure safety.”

Lane administered this sitting of the SAT — and will administer another in October — to fulfill the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) requirement that seniors take a School Day SAT with Essay exam in order to graduate.

According to the ISBE, if a senior does not participate in the fall tests, they can fulfill the requirement in spring 2021. Lane could have abstained from administering the September tests and assessed seniors in the spring.

Ms. Saylor, a Lane counselor, says that she wishes Lane would have waited.

“I feel that as the largest high school in the city of Chicago, that we had an opportunity to take the lead on making a statement,” she said. “I’m not saying refuse to test, because apparently that’s not an option. What I’m saying is it would not have put students in an awkward position with college applications if they could have just said, ‘We’re not testing again until April. We weren’t able to test and our school is testing then.’”

To seniors who don’t feel comfortable testing in October, she said, “Don’t test right now. Wait until April when, hopefully, it’ll be safer. I don’t want anyone to jeopardize their graduation, but I also don’t want anyone to jeopardize their health.”

More than 1,600 American colleges and universities are test-optional, and it is unclear for what purpose Lane, CPS or ISBE will use the test scores.

According to Ms. Kerri Thompson, Lane’s Director of Programming and Assessments, the students — not the use of the scores — is the first priority.

“The only thing that we’re thinking about right now is first and foremost the students, which is that they need this test to graduate from high school at Chicago Public Schools and in the state of Illinois, and we also need to provide them an SAT score for colleges that still require the SAT to get into college,” Thompson said. “That’s at the top of our priority list. Whether or not we’re able to use any of this data for shaping our curriculum or other benchmarks that we might be looking at, we haven’t even crossed that bridge, and honestly, in this pandemic, the only thing we’re thinking about is the students and their needs, which also includes their safety.”

This is a developing story.