Rites of passage for many children are being put on hold or canceled by the coronavirus pandemic, but Governor J.B. Pritzker still isn’t sure how long those types of events will have to be delayed.
Speaking during his Wednesday coronavirus press briefing, the governor said that decisions on events like school graduations and summer camp will need to be made in coming weeks, but first the state must decide whether or not to allow children to go back to school before the end of the school year.
“We still haven’t decided what we are going to do about schools,” he said. “That should give some indication about the summer, but we’re speculating. It’s difficult to make projections months in advance about something.”
Currently, schools statewide are shuttered through April 30, but all schools are implementing e-learning programs to help children keep up with their studies.
Several neighboring states, including Indiana, have already decided that students will e-learn for the remainder of the school year, but Pritzker is still weighing his options when it comes to re-opening schools later this spring.
“We are beginning to talk about what to do in the event school doesn’t go back into session,” he said. “I will only say we’re focused more on getting e-learning up and running for kids.”
Pritzker says that if children are allowed back into schools, then he would expect that kids set to graduate this spring could have some form of a ceremony to honor their accomplishments.
As for summer camp, that decision remains further away in Pritzker’s eyes, but he recognizes that parents will need to be given time to make or alter their plans if children won’t be allowed to go to camps this summer.
“As a parent of children who have gone to camp, I know that all the planning is taking place now,” he said. “We’ll try to give some indication if we can. It’s hard to do so this far in advance. Certainly in the next two weeks we’ll be deciding what to do about the April 30 end to the stay-at-home order, but I’m not sure if we can give an answer about summer camp in the next few weeks.”
The governor has said that the only way he would consider re-opening Illinois businesses and other institutions is if the state could significantly ramp up testing for the virus and for the virus’ antibodies in those who have already had the disease. He also said that “contact tracing,” where those infected by the virus can easily determine those they have come in contact with while they’ve been contagious, and treatments to lessen the severity of the illness are also necessary to move forward with re-opening segments of the economy.