New ISBE / IDPH Guidance for Resuming In-Person Instruction This Fall

By June 23, 2020 News No Comments
ISBE / IDPH Guidance
Today, ISBE and IDPH released its Part Three Joint Guidance for schools to resume in-person learning in Phase 4. As set forth in the Governor’s Restore Illinois Plan, the four public health regions in the State may reach Phase 4 on different dates and may return to an earlier phase if necessitated by public health indicators. At this time, it is anticipated that all regions will be in Phase 4 this fall to allow for in-person instruction to start the 2020-2021 school year.
ISBE emphasizes that while in-person instruction is strongly encouraged in Phase 4, this does not mean a return to pre-pandemic operations. Appropriate social distancing, face coverings, enhanced sanitation measures, and other accommodations will be necessary to ensure the safety of students, staff, and their families.
During Phase 4, IDPH guidelines will:
  • Require use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including face coverings;
  • Prohibit more than 50 individuals from gathering in one space;
  • Require social distancing (6 feet apart) be observed, as much as possible;
  • Require that schools conduct symptom screenings and temperature checks or require that individuals self-certify that they are free of symptoms before entering school buildings; and
  • Require an increase in school-wide cleaning and disinfection.
All public and nonpublic schools in Illinois serving prekindergarten through 12th grade students must follow these guidelines.
ISBE notes that the requirements are subject to change pursuant to updated public health guidance and changing public health conditions. School leaders should remain alert for any updates. In addition, ISBE notes that schools and districts should prepare for a return to remote instruction in the event of a resurgence of the virus or a second wave of it in the fall. The Guidance provides additional information on remote and blended remote learning pursuant to P.A. 101-0643 (SB 1569). In addition, ISBE states that a high priority should be placed on providing in-person instruction for students who have IEPs, 504 Plans, and/or who receive English language supports when building an equitable schedule for blended remote learning days, and that schools should consider prioritizing in-person instruction for students under the age of 13 and those who have had greater difficulty learning remotely, as evidenced by the intake form and attendance rates from spring 2020.
The ISBE Press Release summarizes the health and safety guidance for schools during Phase 4 that are detailed in the Joint Guidance.
IHSA Guidance
We expect the IHSA to release updated Return-to-Play Guidelines for Phase 4. We will update this article when those guidelines are available.
Governor’s Phase 4 Reopening Guidance
On June 22, 2020, the Governor released guidelines for Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan, which are expected to become effective on June 26, 2020, although that date could change based on public health indicators.
The Phase 4 guidelines and tool kits for various industries are available on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s (“DCEO”) website here, including an overview of the Phase 4 guidelines.
Schools should refer to the ISBE/IDPH Part 3 Joint Guidance discussed above.
Please contact an HLERK attorney with questions regarding the Phase 4 reopening guidance for schools.
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