The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) says it is adopting updated COVID-19 prevention guidance for K-12 schools from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
New CDC Guidelines
The CDC released new guidelines today saying that fully vaccinated students and teachers do not need to wear masks in school this fall. The CDC does recommend they wear masks when riding a bus. The group says any students or teachers who are not vaccinated should mask up when indoors, or in crowded settings where social distancing is difficult.
“Our goal is to protect the health of students, teachers, and staff so that in-person learning can resume as safely as possible,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a press release. “The CDC is right: vaccination is the best preventive strategy. As school board members, parents, teachers and superintendents plan for a return to in-person learning in the fall, we strongly encourage those who are not vaccinated to continue to mask. IDPH is proud to fully adopt school guidance issued by CDC, which is based on the latest scientific information about COVID-19.”
Full Reopen Preferred
Though the CDC still recommends keeping a 3-foot minimum of distancing inside classrooms, it says that inability to do so should not prohibit a full return to school. The group says other strategies could be implemented in tandem to allow schools to fully reopen, including screening testing, indoor masking and enhanced ventilation. The use of multiple prevention strategies is especially stressed in schools with students under the age of 12, who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.
The IDPH adds that school districts should closely monitor local COVID-19 metrics to help guide their policies, including vaccination data and outbreaks.
In-Person Learning Mandate
State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen Ayala issued a declaration mandating the resumption of fully in-person learning beginning in the fall of 2021-22 with limited exceptions. She notes that remote instruction should be made available for students who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine or who are not eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, “only while they are under quarantine” in accordance to the guidance or requirements from a local public health department or the IDPH.
“All our students deserve to return safely in-person to schools this fall,” State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen Ayala said in a press release. “With vaccination rates continually rising and unprecedented federal funding to support safe in-person learning, and mitigations such as contact tracing and increased ventilation in place in schools, we are fully confident in the safety of in-person learning this fall. We look forward to a great school year and to the energy of Illinois’ young minds once again filling our school buildings.”
The updated school guidance can be found on the IDPH website.
Naperville News 17’s Megann Horstead reports.
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