Gov. Pritzker Provides Updated Information for Schools Reopening

By David Wood posted 12 days ago

  
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Sending on behalf of State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala:

Dear Colleagues:

Governor JB Pritzker announced today that Illinois is on track to enter Phase 4, as the result of the effective social distancing measures implemented across the state. I am excited to be able to welcome students back to classrooms this fall. Schools will look a bit differently this fall than we are accustomed to, but our focus remains the same: ensuring each and every child receives the high-quality education they deserve.

The Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Public Health have worked together to develop requirements and recommendations for schools to resume in-person learning this fall, while keeping students, staff, and loved ones safe and healthy. You can view the guidance at www.isbe.net/Documents/Part-3-Transition-Planning-Phase-4.pdf.

Please register for one of the appropriate webinar sessions below to review the guidance and ask questions:

Public School and District Administrators and Regional Superintendents:
Wednesday, June 24 at 12 p.m. 
Wednesday, June 24 at 1:30 p.m. 
Nonpublic School Administrators: Thursday, June 25 at 4 p.m. 

We have created signs and posters to display in school buildings to help students and staff understand the health and safety requirements. Download those from the COVID-19 webpage. We are developing additional family-focused resources and will share those as soon as they are available.

The physical classroom offers rich opportunities for academic and social and emotional learning, where children can receive the supports and resources they need – without the distractions of pets and family members; without jockeying for bandwidth or quiet time to focus; and with the face-to-face care and attention of their friends and teachers, who can notice in real-time if they need extra help or someone to talk to.

Our mission of equity compels us to ensure that all students can attend school in-person this fall to the greatest extent possible. This may require some creative scheduling, but we know our incredible teachers and school leaders are up to the task, and we are here to help them work through any challenges they may face.

To develop the guidance that we released today, we engaged an advisory group of 56 educators, administrators, nurses, social workers, parents, and students to ensure our guidance reflected the incredible diversity of Illinois’ 852 school districts. As much as possible, we have provided common and clear requirements, while preserving the flexibility of each school and district to implement a reopening plan that meets the needs of the community and the children they serve.

The minimum public health requirements that all public and nonpublic schools must meet as they create local reopening plans in Phase 4 are to:

Require use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including face coverings;
Prohibit more than 50 individuals from gathering in one space;
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.
These measures are proven and necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Governor also announced today that the State will make 2.5 million masks available for free for students and staff in all K-12 public school districts. A representative from each K-12 public school district, state-authorized charter school, special education cooperative, lab school, vocational center, and regional office operating an alternative program should complete this short survey to help ISBE and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency coordinate delivery: https://www.isbe.net/Pages/Face-Covering-Survey.aspx.

Additionally, the Department of Central Management Services has master contracts available for school districts to purchase PPE and cleaning supplies without having to engage in the competitive bidding process. The contracts, vendor contact information, and item inventory lists are available at www.isbe.net/covid19 under the “PPE & Cleaning Supplies Master Contracts” section. The State’s Chief Procurement Officer is finalizing additional joint purchasing contracts, and ISBE will add those options to the website as soon as they become available.

This fall will not be business as usual, and we will update our guidance as needed in response to changing public health conditions. All schools and districts must be prepared to return to remote learning if the virus surges again. Please continue to submit your federal CARES Act funding applications and direct funds toward closing the digital divide.

As part of our recovery efforts grounded in equity, ISBE will offer the SAT this fall to all 12th grade students who were required to take the SAT this past spring but did not have the opportunity to due to the pandemic. Please find additional information below.

ISBE will continue to engage in open dialogue, as we have done from the onset of this pandemic, to give students the greatest opportunity to recover, re-engage, and grow. I look forward to answering some of your questions during our webinars tomorrow and Thursday. Thank you for your partnership and your ongoing diligence in caring for Illinois students.

Sincerely,

Dr. Carmen I. Ayala
State Superintendent of Education
Illinois State Board of Education
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