Illinois public school districts required to resume full in-person learning this fall

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Daily file illustration by Emily Sakai

Illinois public schools will be required to resume full in-person learning this fall.

Delaney Nelson, City Editor

The Illinois State Board of Education will require all public schools throughout the state to resume full in-person learning for all student attendance days this fall, with some exceptions for remote learning, the board unanimously decided Wednesday.

Remote instruction will be made available for students not eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine and are under a quarantine order by a local public health department or the Illinois Department of Public Health. A formal declaration of full in-person fall learning will come from the state superintendent.

Illinois schools are receiving over $7 billion in federal funding to support students as they return to in-person learning. Evanston/Skokie School District 65 and Evanston Township High School/School District 202 are expected to receive nearly $10.6 million and $3.7 million in funding, respectively. The money comes through the American Rescue Plan and will be disbursed over the next three years.

In District 65, students and families can expect a full in-person reopening in the fall with limited remote learning options. The district began its hybrid learning model in February.

At a Monday board meeting, District 65 Superintendent Devon Horton said the district cannot legally require vaccinations for teachers. Mitigation measures for the fall will continue to include mask wearing, hand washing and completion of daily health certifications. The district will continue to update its COVID-19 dashboard, but vaccinated students and staff will not need to quarantine. 

ETHS began an optional hybrid learning model in April. While the district intends to provide complete in-person instruction in the fall, Assistant Superintendent/Principal Marcus Campbell said community members should expect a “new normal” at an April board meeting. 

The district will implement block scheduling and the removal of mandatory semester exams. At the meeting, Superintendent Eric Witherspoon said PPE and enhanced cleaning protocols will likely still be required in the fall. 

Last week, several Cook County and Chicago mass vaccination events started offering Pfizer vaccines for children ages 12 to 15 after a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This change happened after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for the age group following a human clinical trial, multiple evaluations from physicians and scientists and a final approval from FDA staff.

Currently, Illinois has entered the bridge phase as the state looks to reopen entirely in the coming months. In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot anticipated a full reopening by July 4.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @delaneygnelson

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