New Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation and Executive Orders 2020-47 & 2020-48

On July 24, 2020, the Governor issued a new Disaster Proclamation, Executive Order 2020-47, and Executive Order 2020-48.

The new Disaster Proclamation, in Section 8, provides for continued use of remote learning, under the direction of ISBE. Also, in Section 12, the Disaster Proclamation provides for continued flexibility under the Open Meetings Act for remote meetings. Additional information on the requirements for remote learning and remote school board meetings is available in our 2020 Special Legislative Session Update.

Executive Order 2020-47 states that the June 23, 2020, ISBE/IDPH Transition Joint Guidance was issued at the Governor’s request and under his authority. The Executive Order further states that, effective July 24, 2020, “[a]ll public and nonpublic schools in Illinois serving pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students may open for in-person educational purposes following the completion of the regular 2019-2020 school term.”  Executive Order 2020-47 supersedes any contrary provisions in any previous Executive Order; any provisions of previous Executive Orders that are not contrary remain in full effect.

Importantly, schools that choose to reopen must follow IDPH and ISBE guidance during Phase 4 and take proactive measures to ensure the safety of students, staff, and visitors, including, but not limited to:

  • Limit the number of people in one space to 50 or fewer.
  • Ensure compliance with social distancing requirements to the greatest extent possible. For purposes of the Executive Order, social distancing includes maintaining at least six-foot distance from other individuals and discouraging physical contact between individuals.
  • Require symptom screenings and temperature checks or require individuals to self-certify that they are free of COVID-19 symptoms before entering school buildings.
  • Ensure appropriate hygienic practices, including washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer, covering coughs or sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands), discouraging the sharing of personal items, and regularly cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces.
  • Require the use of appropriate PPE by students, staff, and visitors, including the use of face coverings by individuals who are over age two and able to medically tolerate a face covering. Schools must provide face coverings to all employees who are not able to maintain a minimum six-foot social distance at all times and, to the extent possible, make face coverings available for all students.

Executive Order 2020-48 reissues most Executive Orders, extending a majority of the provisions through August 22, 2020. This includes several Executive Orders applicable to school districts.

New ISBE Guidance – Fall 2020 Learning Recommendations

On July 23, 2020, ISBE released its Fall 2020 Learning Recommendations. Additional information was provided in the State Superintendent’s Press Release issued along with the new guidance.

ISBE continues to emphasize the importance of in-person instruction, but recognizes that it may not be safe to fully resume in-person learning for every school district, and that a return to in-person learning certainly does not mean a return to pre-pandemic operations. As stated in the guidance, the purpose is to provide recommendations to educators for implementing in-person, blended, and/or remote learning during the 2020-2021 school year. ISBE continues to strongly encourage prioritizing in-person learning for students with IEPs, English Learners, and students under the age of 13. The guidance also provides instructional considerations for Multilingual Learners, students with special education needs, and students in different grade bands in the three learning settings.

The guidance acknowledges that districts will need to be flexible in providing in-person, remote, and blended learning opportunities. The guidance states that all school districts need to plan for the possibility that some or all students may need to transition quickly from in-person to remote learning due to individual COVID-19 exposure or local community outbreaks. The guidance also states, as discussed below, that districts must have plans for students who may need to receive full-time remote instruction based on parent/guardian request, their own health status, or a family member’s health status.

Importantly, while the new guidance recognizes local control in decision-making regarding learning opportunities for students when schools reopen this fall, the State Superintendent’s Press Release and the guidance set forth three directives from ISBE:

  • Students shall receive at least 5 clock hours of instruction per day in any learning setting. For any remote learning day, the required at least 5 clock hours per day can be a combination of instruction and school work. School districts have flexibility to determine how best to meet the requirement by counting all learning activities on remote learning days toward the 5 clock hour requirement. Nevertheless, ISBE strongly recommends that on any remote learning day that at least 2.5 hours per day consist of synchronous learning with real-time instruction and live interaction between students and their teachers.
  • School districts must provide remote learning services to students upon request by their parent/guardian (or by the student’s request if the student is 18 or older or emancipated).
  • School districts are strongly encouraged to ensure that all students in any district learning setting continue to receive equitable access to extracurricular activities.

ISBE also makes clear that it does not have oversight of IHSA or IESA, and that school districts and parents must direct questions regarding extracurricular athletic activities to those organizations. More information regarding the status of fall sports will be forthcoming from IHSA and IESA.

On July 24, 2020, ISBE also posted new and updated guidance documents on the ISBE COVID-19 webpage. These documents include:

  • Special Education FAQ: Return to In-Person Instruction for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Population​ – July 24, 2020
  • Homeless Education Supporting Homeless Students During the 2020-21 School Year – July 24, 2020
  • Remote Learning & Transition Considerations FAQ – July 24, 2020

In addition, on July 24, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) issued updated guidance for reopening schools for in-person learning.

Please contact an HLERK attorney with questions regarding the new Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation, Executive Orders, or ISBE Fall 2020 Learning Recommendations for schools.