Is It Safe for Children to Go Back to School in Illinois?

Mark Star

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The Illinois Department of Public Health adopts COVID-19 prevention school guidance.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has fully adopted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in Kindergarten (K)-12 Schools. Their goal is to ensure the health and wellbeing of teachers, students, and staff so that in-person learning can resume as safely as possible.

According to IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, “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.”

The Updated School Guidance

The updated school guidance is meant to benefit students and teachers. It aligns with guidance for fully vaccinated people in the state. Those who have received all the doses of the vaccine don’t need to wear a mask except where required by the state, local, and federal governments. The main elements of the updated guidance are mentioned below.

  1. Students (excluding one-year-old and two-year-old kids), teachers, and staff are required to wear masks. Those who are fully vaccinated are exempted from this rule.
  2. Schools must maintain a physical distance of three to five feet between students and teachers within classrooms.
  3. When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance, it is important to layer other prevention strategies like indoor masking and hand-washing.
  4. The main layers of prevention are ventilation, regular hand-washing, screening, testing, respiratory etiquette, isolation, quarantine and staying home when getting tested or sick. These things will keep schools safe.
  5. Schools and communities must monitor community transmission of COVID-19, screening testing, outbreaks, and vaccination coverage to guide decisions about the level of layered prevention strategies being implemented.

You May Send Your Children to Schools

Parents will be glad to know that their kids can now go to school. “All our students deserve to return safely in-person to schools this fall,” Dr. Ayala said. "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 the energy of Illinois’ young minds once again filling our school buildings.”The updated school guidance is subject to change.

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