Illinois Releases Guidance for Students to Return to Classrooms this Fall

Jun 23, 2020

The State of Illinois rolled out its guidance for in-person school learning to return this fall.

During a special briefing Tuesday, Governor J.B Pritzker said one of the most essential mitigations will be face coverings.

"I'm proud to announce today that the Illinois Emergency Management Agency plans to provide cloth masks to every student, teacher and staff member in every public school district in Illinois...over 2.5 million masks at no cost to the districts. "

Pritzker said purchase agreements have also been secured so school districts can obtain safety supplies.

"Like hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment, at prices more competitive than purchasing on their own."

The governor said the federal CARES Act has funneled over $500 million to school districts so they can address local needs, which he is encouraging districts to use for devices and internet connectivity so all students can access remote learning materials that will likely be utilized during the upcoming academic year.

One of the questions on everybody's mind is what will happen if someone at school tests positive for COVID-19? Illinois Department of Public Health director Dr. Ngozi Ezike says to treat it just like you would if your co-worker tests positive.

""The guidance is, if, you know, 15 to 30 minutes of close contact within 6 feet without coverings, those are the people that are considered close contacts that would also now have to quarantine, waiting to see if they have developed symptoms. And that quarantine period is actually 14 days."

Ezike also said the local health department will help with contact tracing. There will be extensive disinfecting of the area, including the classroom and spaces the individual came in contact with, as well.

The 63-page guidance report from the Illinois State Board of Education is available here.

The State of Illinois also published guidance to help colleges and universities welcome students back to campus this fall.

Illinois Board of Higher Education executive director Ginger Ostro says the guidance is based on recommendations from the Fall Opening Committee, made up of over 20 presidents, faculty, staff and public health experts from public and private universities as well as community colleges.

"They were guided by a set of principles that put campus health and safety first and kept focus on student success, emphasizing equity and the needs of our under-resourced and underserved students."

The guidelines are available here.