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Illinois Releases New Guidelines For K-12 Schools, Colleges To Reopen In Fall

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced new guidelines to help elementary schools, community colleges and higher education safely reopen for in-person classes in the fall.

SPRINGFIELD – K-12 schools and colleges in Illinois now have state guidelines to reopen under Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) released new guidelines Tuesday to help schools safely return to in-person classes in the fall.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker says the goal is for schools to provide in-person learning as much as possible, with a mix of some remote learning. He says that’s because face-to-face classes provide academic, social and emotional learning, as well as additional resources that often can’t be met remotely.

“Classroom learning provides necessary opportunities for our students to learn, socialize and grow,” Gov. Pritzker said in a statement.

Gov. Pritzker also says the state will aid school districts with meeting personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements by providing them with 2.5 million cloth face masks for students and staff.

There are several social distancing guidelines and safety precautions that school districts, as well as community colleges and other higher education institutions, will need to put in place. Most involve the use of PPE such as wearing face coverings, screenings and temperature checks, increased cleaning and disinfection of buildings, as well as social distancing.

According to Illinois.gov, here are the new guidelines.

K-12 SCHOOLS

  • All staff members, teachers and students at schools will be required to wear face coverings.
  • Gatherings of more than 50 people in classrooms or spaces won’t be permitted, and schools should implement social distancing measures “whenever possible.”
  • Schools should conduct symptom screenings for COVID-19, as well as temperature checks, before students enter the building.
  • Schools will be allowed to offer remote classes if needed. In the case of a potential surge of COVID-19 in the fall, schools will also have to be prepared to return to full-time remote learning.
  • Schools should implement more cleaning and disinfection throughout buildings and classrooms to prevent the spread of the virus.

COMMUNITY COLLEGES

  • Community colleges should provide opportunities for remote classes/learning, as well as remote work for employees, in case of COVID-19 infection, isolation or quarantine.
  • Community colleges should implement the use of face coverings, maintaining six-feet distances and cleaning/disinfecting spaces.
  • Find more detailed guidelines from the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) here.

HIGHER EDUCATION

  • In addition to general CDC and IDPH guidelines for social distancing, cleaning, disinfecting and PPE, the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) suggests colleges and universities provide hand sanitizing stations throughout campus.
  • Students, faculty and staff should be required to self-monitor symptoms and for people to stay at home if they experience illness.
  • Staff and faculty should be trained on how to identify students with symptoms and refer them to proper services.
  • Find the full list of IBHE guidelines here.

COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving story, and we are working hard to bring you the most up-to-date information. We recommend checking the Coronavirus Information Center for the most recent numbers and guidance.

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Lecia Bushak

Lecia Bushak

Lecia Bushak is a Multimedia Environmental Reporter at WILL. Previously, she was a Reporter/Producer for NPR/PBS in Cleveland, where she covered mental health, the opioid epidemic and environmental health, among a variety of other topics for radio, television and digital.

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