Dec. 31, 2021 Update: Addressing speculation of what IDPH’s December 30 announcement means for schools, ISBE announced today that schools should continue to follow the current IDPH COVID-19 School Guidance, including for school exclusion times. More guidance is expected in the days ahead.
As if trying to throw one last curveball at schools in 2021, the IDPH today officially adopted the shortened isolation and quarantine timelines for the general public issued by the CDC on December 27, 2021.
The new IDPH guidelines allow for a shorter, 5-day isolation or quarantine period in certain cases. However, with respect to COVID-positive cases, IDPH’s press release said, “Schools should continue to follow the IDPH COVID-19 School Guidance for children who have received the primary vaccination series and are not eligible for booster doses after 6 months.” (The reference to “children” here begs the question of whether staff are intended to be subject to the general CDC/IDPH guidance.) With respect to close contacts, the press release said, “Schools should continue to follow the IDPH COVID-19 School Guidance.”
This guidance suggests an intent by the CDC–and now IDPH–to balance public health risks with the operational risks posed to our society by the droves of absent employees due to COVID. But it doesn’t appear to change anything for Illinois schools yet. Despite IDPH’s press release today, we still have Executive Order 2021-25 (extended to January 8, 2022 by EO 2021-32), IDPH’s emergency rules, and IDPH and ISBE guidance on school “exclusion” on the books, all of which still hold to the longer exclusion periods under which we’ve been operating for several months now.
It remains to be seen whether the Governor, IDPH, and ISBE will update their respective requirements and guidance on school exclusion to align with the new CDC/IDPH quarantine and isolation timelines, or if schools will continue to operate under more specific school exclusion rules. For the time being, however, nothing changes. We will continue to monitor and share updates in the days ahead.