The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is fully adopting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in Kindergarten (K)-12 Schools released today. The updated school guidance now aligns with guidance for fully vaccinated people, which allows activities to resume for fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask except where required by federal, state, and local rules and regulations.
Major elements of the updated guidance include:
- Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated.
• CDC recommends schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated, to reduce transmission risk. When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet, such as when schools cannot fully re-open while maintaining these distances, it is especially important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as indoor masking.
• Screening testing, ventilation, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, staying home when sick and getting tested, contact tracing in combination with quarantine and isolation, and cleaning and disinfection are also important layers of prevention to keep schools safe.
• Many schools serve children under the age of 12 who are not eligible for vaccination at this time. Therefore, this guidance emphasizes implementing layered prevention strategies (masking, distancing, testing) to protect people who are not fully vaccinated.
Schools and communities should monitor community transmission of COVID-19, vaccination coverage, screening testing, and outbreaks to guide decisions about on the level of layered prevention strategies being implemented.
State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala issued the following declaration mandating in-person learning with limited exceptions:
Beginning with the 2021-22 school year, all schools must resume fully in-person learning for all student attendance days, provided that, pursuant to 105 ILCS 5/10-30 and 105 ILCS 5/34-18.66, remote instruction 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 consistent with guidance or requirements from a local public health department or the Illinois Department of Public Health. The updated school guidance can be found at http://www.dph.illinois.gov/covid19/community-guidance/school-guidance. This guidance is subject to change pursuant to changing public health conditions and updates from CDC.