– The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today released Part Two of the Transition Plan Advisory Workgroup’s recommendations for transitioning to in-person instruction. The guidance focuses on activities allowed in Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois
plan, including summer school, and aligns with Executive Order 2020-40
. The joint guidance, developed in collaboration with educators, superintendents, social workers, nurses, and other stakeholders, provides recommendations for how schools can comply with IDPH health and safety requirements in Phase 3.
While Phase 3 allows for the resumption of limited face-to-face instruction, schools cannot yet return to pre-pandemic operations. Extensive social distancing, enhanced sanitation measures, and other accommodations will be necessary to ensure the safety of students, staff, and their families. View the full guidance.
“We are excited and encouraged to see Illinois move into Phase 3 of Governor Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “This progress is due in no small part to the dedication of students, teachers, and their families to staying home, social distancing, and wearing face coverings when in public. I am immensely grateful for these efforts and the sacrifices that school communities have made. While Phase 3 allows some in-person small group activities, we must continue to be diligent in following the required safety protocols to keep Illinois on the path to recovery.”
All public and private schools must follow IDPH requirements in Phase 3, which:
- Prohibit more than 10 individuals from gathering in one space;
- Require social distancing policies; and,
- Require use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
Decisions regarding whether to conduct allowable activities during Phase 3 will remain at the discretion of local school authorities, in consultation with local public health departments.
Schools should ensure individuals wear face coverings and other PPE appropriate to their duties and risk of exposure, wash hands frequently, conduct symptom and temperature checks before entering the school building, regularly clean and sanitize buildings and equipment, restrict the borrowing or sharing of items, and limit capacity in any space to 10 or fewer people. Individuals who show any signs or symptoms of illness should stay home.
The guidance outlines what to do if someone appears ill at school and further considerations for specific areas of the school, such as restrooms, classrooms, water fountains, playgrounds, hallways, administrative offices, and cafeterias. The guidance also contains considerations for specific activities, such as physical education, behind-the-wheel driver’s education, transportation, and music courses. Schools should clearly communicate safety protocols and expectations to students, staff, and families in advance -- in the family’s native language -- and via multiple modes, including signage around the school.
Activities allowed in Phase 3 include:
- Behind-the-Wheel Instruction -- Students may participate in behind-the-wheel instruction. Vehicles must be cleaned and sanitized between each use and only two students and one instructor may be in a vehicle at a time.
- Child Find -- Districts may conduct activities pertaining to the legal requirement that schools find all children who have disabilities and who may be entitled to special education services.
- Early Childhood, Special Education, and English Learner Screenings -- Schools and districts may conduct in-person early childhood, special education, and English Learner screenings.
- Extended School Year -- Districts may offer extended school year services, as appropriate, to students whose Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) require the service.
- Host Summer Camps and Other Programs -- Schools and districts may allow buildings to be used for summer camps and other programs sponsored by third parties. Playgrounds may not be used.
- Individualized Education Program Meetings -- Districts may conduct IEP meetings for families who have been unable to engage in virtual IEP meetings. These meetings should still be held virtually, to the greatest extent possible.
- Mediation and Due Process Hearings -- Mediations and due process hearings may take place in person. However, it is recommended that mediation and due process hearings still be conducted virtually, if all parties agree to do so.
- School Registration -- Staff may provide in-person registration for students and families, when necessary. Schools and districts should also provide remote registration opportunities.
- Special Education Evaluations -- Districts may conduct evaluations that could not be completed virtually. Evaluations should still be held virtually, to the greatest extent possible.
- Staff Meetings and Professional Development -- Districts may convene staff members for any appropriate training, planning, and professional development purposes.
- Summer Meals Distribution -- ISBE highly encourages school districts to evaluate the needs of their students and community as they transition into the different phases of opening the state and continue to provide meals through the summer to meet the needs of their communities. The required Summer Food Service trainings can be conducted virtually. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently extended several key flexibilities through Aug. 31, 2020, to allow school districts to continue to provide non-congregate meals to meet the needs of their communities. Further, Public Act 096-0734 requires every public school in which at least 50 percent of the students were eligible for free and reduced-price lunches and has a summer school program must provide a summer breakfast and/or lunch to the students in the summer school and children in that community.
- Summer School -- Schools and districts may conduct in-person summer school. Special populations, which may include students with IEPs, English Learners, and students who received incompletes during remote instruction, should receive priority consideration for services.
- Testing Centers -- Schools may serve as testing sites for students.
Executive Order 2020-40 and the joint IDPH and ISBE guidance supersede any previous guidance on summer school. The agencies and the Transition Plan Advisory Workgroup will release further guidance in the coming weeks for the 2020-21 school year and activities allowed in Phase 4.