Frequently asked questions: Updated rules on COVID-19 and schools
Breaking down the state's latest rules concerning COVID-19 restrictions in Illinois K-12 schools.
With the unprecedented 2020-2021 school year coming to a close in Illinois, parents and guardians are often in the dark about how state and local leaders are making decisions about the upcoming school year. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions regarding masks in schools and remote learning:
Who has final authority on masks in schools?
- Both the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Public Health can require masks in public and private schools.
- As of June 1, 2021, there was a mask mandate in place for all schools.
- The governor also can issue emergency orders related to masks.
What should parents do this summer to make their voices heard?
- Contact local lawmakers and ask them to put pressure on the governor and state agencies.
What is the Resolution Supporting In-Person Instruction?
- The resolution announced a forthcoming declaration requiring public schools to provide full, in-person learning for the 2021-2022 academic school year.
- The final declaration will be issued by the state superintendent at the end of the 2020-2021 academic school year, which is June 30, 2021.
- The declaration would require remote instruction be available to students who are ineligible for the vaccine, such as those under 12, and also under a quarantine order by the local health department or IDPH.
Can a local school district offer remote learning outside of the resolution?
- The memorandum explaining the resolution states school districts cannot offer remote learning to students during quarantines if they are eligible for vaccination but have not gotten their shots. It also states, “[f]lexibility exists in other parts of the law for school districts to continue to provide remote learning to individual students beyond those required in the Superintendent’s declaration, if that best meets the student’s learning needs.”
- Arguably, an individual school district could determine unvaccinated students age 12 or over who are in quarantine should receive remote learning to “meet the student’s learning needs,” but a specific district policy must be in place.