State Issues Guidance for In-Person Education

June 24, 2020

As the state moves to Phase 4 of its “Restore Illinois” reopening plan, Governor J.B. Pritzker Tuesday announced guidelines that will allow K-12 schools, community colleges and higher education institutions to resume in-person instruction for the upcoming academic year. To help schools meet the guidelines and prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency will provide public K-12 districts 2.5 million cloth face masks, allowing K-12 schools to provide a cloth face mask to all students and staff.

The guidance released by the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) allows schools to bring students back to school buildings in the fall while ensuring the health and safety of students and staff remains the top priority. Each school district will determine how to implement the guidance based on its unique student enrollment, school facilities, staffing, transportation and technological capacity.

The IDPH requirements for schools to reopen in Phase 4 are:

  • Require use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including face coverings;   
  • Prohibit more than 50 individuals from gathering in one space;   
  • Require social distancing whenever possible;   
  • Conduct symptom screenings and temperature checks or require self-certification that individuals entering school buildings are symptom free;
  • Increase schoolwide cleaning and disinfection.   
  • Require social distancing 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 schoolwide cleaning and disinfection.

The Illinois Board of Higher Education established guidelines for higher education institutions to safely reopen their classrooms based on input from IDPH and higher education leaders throughout Illinois. When students return to campus this fall, they can expect new prevention measures from colleges and universities including social distancing, physical spacing, hand sanitizing stations, face covering requirements, and regular monitoring of students for symptoms of COVID-19. The Illinois Community College Board and its Return to Campus Committee, with the approval of IDPH, have also issued guidelines.