As more Illinois schools return to in-person and hybrid instruction, the State Board of Education has made some adjustments to its public health guidance amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The changes, made in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Public Health, will involve a series of “layered mitigation strategies,” along with several changes to the way that schools monitor the health and safety of students, according to a press release.
Some of those changes include changes to the appropriate distancing between teachers and students, reducing that number to 3-to-6 feet for vaccinated educators, and guidance urging schools to have parents and students conduct health screenings at home rather than on school grounds.
The changes also come after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released and updated its guidance on the reopening of schools in the United States.
According to the ISBE’s letter, all schools that reopen their doors to in-person instruction will be required to adhere to five essential mitigation strategies, including:
1 Requiring universal and correct use of PPE, including face masks
2 Requiring social distancing be observed as much as possible
3 Requiring contact tracing, in combination with isolation of those suspected or confirmed to have COVID 19
4 Requiring an increase in schoolwide cleaning and disinfection
5 Requiring promotion and adherence to handwashing and respiratory etiquette.
Several other changes were also added to the state’s guidance. Capacity limits for in-person learning, along with those instituted for lunch periods at schools, will now be determined by a space’s ability to accommodate social distancing, rather than setting a specific percentage or number of students that can occupy a space.
The move is designed to allow schools flexibility in designing their learning arrangements, according to officials.
Social distancing rules have also been tweaked to take into account teachers who have been vaccinated against coronavirus. Those teachers are advised to remain at least 3-to-6 feet separate from students, while teachers who have not been vaccinated are still advised to remain 6 or more feet away from students as frequently as possible.
Health officials have also changed their recommendations for daily symptom screenings, advising parents and students to conduct those screenings at home rather than in school buildings. Schools are still permitted to perform those screenings if they choose to, according to the letter from the ISBE.
Officials also announced that families of students at increased risk of severe illness must be given the option of remote instruction.
The full guidance from ISBE can be found here: