(The Center Square) – The Illinois State Board of Education is preparing schools for the possibility of closures due to COVID-19 outbreaks and high quarantine numbers.
The Board of Education has issued guidance for remote learning after the state health department identified more than two dozen schools with COVID-19 outbreaks.
According to the ISBE, school districts that decide to close due to high number of COVID-19 cases have to first consult with their local health department and then provide remote learning to all students.
According to ISBE, the remote learning requirements are the same as they were last year: Specifically, five hours of a combination of instruction and school work with a recommendation that districts provide all students with at least 2.5 hours of synchronous learning with real-time instruction and interaction between students and teachers.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said an outbreak is defined by at least 5 cases and there may be more than 26 schools affected.
“I can tell you that you can pick up a newspaper and read about some schools that haven’t yet been reported as part of the IDPH numbers, but in fact have an outbreak of some sort or another,” Pritzker said.
The Illinois Department of Public Health said an outbreak is two or more linked cases, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Only three of the schools reported more than 10 cases, and most on the list are in northern Illinois. Nearly 100 students are in quarantine in the Sycamore Community School District 427, a school that was not identified by IDPH, after at least 17 tested positive for COVID-19.
A few of schools reporting outbreaks have been put on probation by the state for ignoring the governor’s mask mandate.
Pritzker recently announced that educators from kindergarten through college now are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing.
ISBE also issued rules for students involved in music. Individuals playing instruments in orchestra, band, and general music settings, or singing, dancing, participating in color guard should wear a multi-layered face covering when inside.
“Individuals playing aerosol-producing wind instruments should pull down their mask, play the instrument (with a bell cover as necessary), then replace their mask over their nose and mouth,” according to the update on the ISBE website.