Illinois State Board of Education mandates return to in-person learning

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ROCKFORD — Illinois students are expected to return to in-person school next school year, wearing masks if they are not fully vaccinated.

State Superintendent of Education Carmen Ayala on Friday issued a declaration mandating in-person learning. Remote instruction can be made available for students who are not eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine and must quarantine. All students 12 and older are eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations.

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“All our students deserve to return safely in-person to schools this fall,” Ayala said in a news 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 mandate came after the Illinois Department of Public Health adopted COVID-19 prevention guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, the news release said.

“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 Ngozi Ezike said in the 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.”

— Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals aged 2 and older who are not fully vaccinated.

— Schools should keep schools clean and disinfected. They should maintain at least 3 feet of distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated, to reduce transmission risk.

— Testing, ventilation, handwashing and respiratory etiquette should be followed

— Students should stay home when sick.

— Schools should cooperate with contact tracing in combination with quarantine and isolation rules.

— Especially in schools that serve children under the age of 12 who are not eligible for vaccination multiple layers of prevention strategies like masking, distancing and testing should be implemented to protect people who are not fully vaccinated.

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July 9, 2021 at 09:39PM

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