Communicable Disease in Schools

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have identified some communicable diseases that health care providers, including nurses, must report to the state or local health department.
  • Due to the immediate threat posed by some diseases, the diseases listed that are to be immediately reported (within three hours) and those to be reported within 24 hours should be reported by school nurses within those time frames as soon as notified by a parent or the student's health care provider that the disease is present or suspected.
  • Any schools located in Chicago MUST report to any of these reportable conditions to CDPH
    • If your school is not located in Chicago, please report to your local health authority.
  • Please review all the IDPH requirements for communicable disease reporting

Reporting Cases

Learn more here

  • There are many situations that are not covered in this section.
    • There is a LOT of information on the CDC and IDPH about communicable diseases. We have worked to curate some of that information on this site for Chicago schools.
    • If you have questions about medication administration or other school nursing questions, please review the ISBE site.
    • The school nursing is directed by the Illinois Nurse Practice Act in which schools are considered a community setting.
    • Pediatric vaccines are VITAL in keeping schools healthy. Learn more about state vaccine requirements here.
  • Some general rules of thumb
    • People must be at least 24 hours fever free (without the use of fever reducing medications) before returning to school.
    • People must at least 24 hours after their last episode of vomiting and/or diarrhea before returning to school, though 48 hours is preferred.
  • Hand washing is the single most important way to prevent the spread of communicable diseases
    • Use soap, warm water and disposable paper towels and wash your hands frequently. Teach children to wash their hands, too. Hand washing reduces the number of microorganisms on hands that can spread communicable diseases. It is recommended that:
    • Hands be washed when arriving for the day and leaving for the day and when moving between groups of children, and as follows:
      • Before and after eating or handling food, feeding a child, administering medication, or playing in water used by more than one person.
      • After diapering or using the toilet; handling any bodily fluid, uncooked food, or animals; cleaning cages/litterbox; being outdoors, playing in sandboxes or at playgrounds; and/or cleaning or handling trash/garbage.
  • Open the window to let the fresh air in
    • Well-ventilated rooms help reduce the numbers of airborne germs inside. Airing out the rooms is important, even in the winter. Respiratory diseases easily spread from coughs and sneezes. Opening the window at least once a day lets the germs out and fresh air in.
  • Follow a good cleaning schedule and sanitize or disinfect in the proper way
    • Guidance on cleaning and disinfection in schools is available at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/school/cleaning.htm
    • Consider utilizing a chart to ensure all areas are addressed for cleaning, identifying the appropriate sanitizing or disinfection method, and according to schedule.
    • Increase frequency of cleaning and disinfection during illness outbreaks, when there is known contamination, when there is visible soil, blood, or bodily fluids, or when recommended by the local health department.
    • Remember a surface must first be clean for a sanitizer or disinfectant to be effective. Follow product label instructions for use.
  • Require that children are up to date on immunizations
  • Do not share personal items among children and keep their belongings separate
    • Do not allow children to share belongings such as hair brushes, food, drinks, clothing, hats, pacifiers or other items; separate children's coats, hats, and bedding items.
  • Separate children by using space wisely
    • Maintain distance between sleeping areas, mats, cribs or cots.
    • Keep children in groups and consistently assign caregivers to the same group.
    • Keep diapered and toilet-trained children separate to prevent spread of diarrheal diseases.
  • When possible, staff responsible for food handling should not be involved in diaper changing, or at a minimum, should not perform diapering during times of food preparation and handling.
  • Exclude sick children and staff
    • Ensure that parents receive information on when to keep ill children at home and other school exclusion policies, sending a sick child home with his/her parent helps to prevent the other children from becoming ill with a communicable disease.

General Resources

Communicable Diseases in Schools

For all reportable communicable diseases (other than TB) please call (312) 746-6015, email us at SchoolsCD@cityofchicago.org or complete this REDcap Form.

  • If multiple COVID cases are reported, please use this line list:  COVIDLineListSY22-23
  • If multiple cases of another communicable disease are reported, please use this line list:  CDLineListSY22-23
  • If you need to report a case of active TB disease, please reach out to (312)-743-9000
  • If you are calling about ANY disease after hours, please call 311 ask for the communicable disease medical director on-call.

If you are part of Chicago Public Schools, please follow the internal protocol for reporting.

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