Illinois Public Schools expected to reopen in Fall, face masks required

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ILLINOIS — A lot can change between now and August.

For now, as Illinois prepares to enter Stage 4 next Friday, the Illinois State Board of Education is recommending schools fully reopen and proceed with in-class instruction this fall. However full practices will reside with the individual school districts.

The board met virtually Wednesday to issue guidance to a transition plan.  A full plan is expect to be released in the coming weeks.  Before it can be issued, the Governor’s office and Illinois Department of Public Health will have to sign off on it.

While the plan will include specifics on what school districts can do prior to next school year, the school districts themselves will ultimately have the final say on how they would like to proceed.

“We will emphasize in-person learning for all students to the greatest extent possible, while realizing that may not be feasible in all situations.” State Superintendent Carmen Ayala said Thursday in a letter to colleagues

“Blended Remote Learning Days allow schools to utilize a mix of in-person and remote learning, if needed, to protect the health and safety of students, teachers, and families,” said Ayala.  “Schools that plan to utilize Blended Remote Learning Days should consider equity and prioritize in-person learning for our students with greater needs.”

The state superintendent added all students and teachers will be required to wear face masks during in-person instructions.  “We hope to release the guidance in the next week and will follow the release with webinars to answer your questions in real-time.” Ayala said.

Ayala said in the letter guidance will include for personal protective equipment, including face coverings; capacity limits on individuals in one space; social distancing; symptom screening; and schoolwide cleaning and disinfection.

The state is expected to reach Stage 4 on June 26th, allowing for groups of more than 50 with social distancing required. 

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