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COVID-19 Tests Pile Up At FedEx Dropboxes, Shipping Businesses Swamped, As CPS Parents Rush To Get Kids' Samples In

CHICAGO (CBS) -- COVID-19 tests have been piling up at FedEx drop-boxes.

At one dropoff spot where Chicago Public Schools parents were told to take their kids' test kits, everything was left in a mess with hundreds of kits piled high and unprotected on a snowy sidewalk.

Now, as CBS 2's Jermont Terry reported Tuesday night, parents are questioning whether their kids will be safe returning to school next Monday.

CPS wanted parents to get the home test samples back to labs in enough time. Parents did their part, but FedEx boxes – and even shipping stores – were inundated with samples.

It all made many question whether CPS was ready for what they themselves requested.

A constant stream of people – mostly parents – came by to drop off the test kits at a FedEx box in a strip mall at 52nd Street and Pulaski Road in West Elsdon ahead of what had been a deadline Tuesday night. They were hoping the kits would get picked up.

"We don't even know if they're going to make it through, or they're going to be compromised the way they're just left here unattended," said CPS parent Lorena Paredes.

The overflow comes from CPS parents rushing to meet the district's COVID-19 at-home test kit deadline. Close to 150,000 tests were due at once.

Paredes gave her 5-year-old daughter the test.

"I didn't want to do it, but it was something that was being requested, so I figured I have no choice but to do it," Paredes said.

Paredes was early, and placed her child's test inside the box. But to see the overflowing pile of tests lying around was dismaying.

"I think the school should have had a little bit more options for families - maybe open up the schools - that way, it would be more accessible for us to drop it off," Paredes said.

Parent Ricky Medina feels like he wasted time.

"They're on the floor," he said. "How do you know it's secure? You know what I mean? I've got to kick it back in."

And for shipping businesses, not only were the phones ringing off the hook, but packages were streaming in.

"Each package that came we had to scan and keep a receipt and give the customer a receipt," said Saad Malley of Shipping Pros, showing CBS 2's Terry an estimated 500 receipts from just one day.

Those packages all came in by 1 p.m., with only three employees.

"We had no clue that this was happening today," Malley said. "Nobody told us to expect this flood of business just to drop and get them scanned."

But those tests dropped off at the store were scanned.

Back at the West Elsdon strip mall, someone came by and loaded them into a vehicle. She would not identify herself, but insisted she was authorized.

About half an hour later, someone in a FedEx uniform and truck picked up the remaining packages.

"Whoever is in charge of CPS or whatever – this is messed up. This ain't right," Medina said. "Some of these tests are getting wet. How do you know it'll be right?"

Parents were also able to drop off kits at some area libraries.

Meanwhile, with so many samples getting returned at once, CPS has extended the deadline for test drop-offs until Thursday and has also added more locations.

Students can drop off the samples Tuesday at the nearest FedEx drop box.

If a drop box is not an option, try these city libraries between noon at 5 p.m.

  • Englewood: Kelly Branch, 6151 S. Normal Blvd.
  • South Shore: South Shore Branch, 2505 E. 73rd St.
  • Auburn Gresham: Thurgood Marshall Branch, 7506 S. Racine Ave.
  • Southeast Side: Vodak-East Side Branch, 3710 E. 106th St.
  • Austin: Austin Branch, 5615 W. Race Ave.
  • Altgeld Gardens: Altgeld Branch, 933 E. 131st Pl.
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