With coronavirus numbers continuing their decline in Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker unveiled a series of guidelines designed to get students back into classrooms this fall, but issued a warning that a return to remote learning might be necessary.
The governor, speaking at a press conference Tuesday, laid out a series of guidelines related to wearing masks, encouraging children to observe social distancing guidance and keeping schools sanitized during the coronavirus pandemic, but also said that a reversal in current trends could force kids to return to learning at home.
“In the event of a dramatic reversal of local health metrics, or a second wave of the virus at some point during the school year, schools and districts must also prepare for the potential need to return to remote instruction,” Pritzker said.
The governor recently signed legislation that will help schools to prepare for such an event, providing funds to help increase accessibility to technology necessary for children to learn at home.
Illinois students were taken out of classrooms in late March as a result of the virus, and ended up returning to instruction in a virtual format for the remainder of the year. Now, with many colleges and school districts planning out their return to physical classrooms, Pritzker is laying out a vision of what school will look like before a vaccine for coronavirus is widely available.
“Phase Four (will) include the wearing of masks or face coverings, a cap on 50-person gatherings in one space, the observance of social distancing whenever possible, and an increase in schoolwide cleanings and disinfection, including symptom checks,” he said. “This guidance focuses on keeping students, teachers and families healthy and safe.”
Under the new guidance, all students in K-12 schools will be required to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including face coverings. Symptom screenings and temperature checks are also required for students entering schools, and disinfection and cleaning of schools will be increased.
Colleges will be asked to observe similar guidelines, with larger lectures of 50 or more students likely on hold as a result of the Phase Four requirements.