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CPS 'Pods' For Kids With COVID Symptoms Raising Concerns; 'They Are A Last Resort'

CHICAGO (CBS) -- We're getting a better idea of what school will look like when CPS kids go back.

CBS 2's Chris Tye has been digging into some of the concerns raised by nurses in the district, and the images that they say could very much rattle the youngest who are first to head back.

The district has spent tens of millions of dollars to get to this point, but some of the equipment purchases, aimed at controlling spread if there was a midday surge in cases, have some parents and nurses concerned for what awaits kids kept in isolation.

Center stage at Bell Elementary. It's usually the home for lessons on harmony and percussion. This year, the stage is set with safety pods and ventilation piping.

"This is just in case the care rooms were not enough volume for the students that need to wait," said Marielle Fircchoine of CDPH.

Students developing COVID symptoms, during the school day will first go to reconfigured classrooms, so called "care rooms." Every school in the district will have them. But if those hit capacity, the pods would be utilized in the schools that have them.

"The structures that you are referring to are hospital grade. These have been used and they are a last resort should a school become overwhelmed," said CPS CEO Janice Jackson.

Approved by the city's health department, but not by some of the nurses that start providing care on Monday.

"This is the school nurse outfit. I want you to have a visual."

One nurse showed her large mask, with looks like something a painter would wear. She is deeply concerned of the clear pods on stage, and what nurses providing care and comfort will look like. At a local school council Zoom meeting, she talked of preschoolers and special needs students dealing with this harsh reality.

"Those plastic cages, bubbles, whatever you want to call them, is what they will be in if they have a symptom. For them to look at this, that's frightening."

They are just some of the emergency supplies CPS spent $42 million on  to prepare for school during pandemic. But, if care rooms never hit capacity, center stage will remain empty.

"We don't necessarily intend to use them," said Fricchione.

The nurse told parents that staff has concerns and to please hear them out, adding this is not the environment to bring them back. Worth noting: parents can choose to send their kids to school or keep them home.

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