coronavirus illinois

New Illinois School Health Guidelines Bill Generates Controversy

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the bill's goal is "just to make it safe for kids in school."

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Under a new Illinois House Bill, both private and public schools in Illinois would have to follow in-person instruction requirements established by the state's Department of Public Health in the event of a public health emergency.

Some parents, however, worry that if made law, the bill would take away power from local public and private schools.

House Bill 2789 requires IDPH to establish metrics for school districts and public institutions of higher education to determine if in-person instruction can be conducted safely or if remote learning, or a hybrid model, should be implemented.

Kara Look, whose children attend Queen of Angels Catholic School, said every parent should be concerned, with the possibility of more oversight and regulations.

"Why would we give the power over to you know, the board of health? The schools have been doing this since last August, and they’ve done it successfully," Look said.

Sean Denney, government relations director of the Illinois Education Association, which supports the measure, says the bill would create clear procedures statewide. Denney added there are misconceptions about the law closing schools.

"There could be a chance that a school be put back into virtual learning, but again, that’s only if after there’s been a complaint received by the board of health, a letter has gone out, and an inspection takes place," he said. "All of those things are in place in order to give a school district or a school time to get into compliance.”

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker addressed the bill last week, saying the goal is "just to make it safe for kids in school."

Some parents, though, still believe the measure is unnecessary.

"“I don’t even understand the purpose of the bill. Why is there a bill? There were no outbreaks in the private schools," Look said. "That’s not to say some kids didn’t have it, but there was no transmission.”

The bill previously passed the House, and is awaiting a vote in the Senate.

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