Today, the CDC updated its COVID guidance for schools, IDPH issued a press release indicating that it is adopting the CDC’s guidance in full, and State Superintendent Ayala issued her declaration regarding remote learning. While we anticipate more detail to follow from ISBE and/or IDPH in the days ahead, and there remain some ambiguities about the extent to which these guidelines will be enforced as requirements, a few key preliminary takeaways are:
- While indoors, masks are only needed for individuals who are not vaccinated (unless a local school district decides to require a stricter standard). This begs the question of what a school’s obligation will be to determine vaccination status and enforce mask wearing for the unvaccinated.
- The new social distancing target is 3 feet (instead of 6 feet), though other COVID mitigation strategies are recommended when 3 feet of social distancing is not possible.
- Ayala’s declaration requires remote learning for students who (1) have not received a COVID-19 vaccine or are not eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine AND (2) are under quarantine “consistent with [LHD or IDPH] guidance or requirements.” This is notably broader than ISBE’s earlier resolution in a few respects. One, it includes students who simply “have not received” a vaccine, regardless of whether they are eligible to do so. Thus, as written currently, it appears students who elect not to be vaccinated will be entitled to remote learning whenever they have to quarantine. Two, the resolution’s reference to a quarantine “order” is worded differently in today’s declaration, which potentially could be read more broadly.
Note that ISBE’s COVID FAQ document has not been updated on its website yet, and Governor Pritzker’s current Executive Order still requires masks in schools. We anticipate those will be updated to align with and potentially clarify today’s guidance from the CDC and IDPH.
As always, we will continue to monitor and keep you apprised of the latest COVID updates as you plan for the school year ahead.