Illinois State Board of Education gives new in-person schooling guidance

New COVID-19 safety guidelines released Tuesday by the Illinois State Board of Education suggest in-person learning should be prioritized over extracurricular activities.

The guidelines released in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Public Health say capacity limits for in-person learning, and activities like lunch, will be determined by the space’s ability to accommodate social distancing. The board now defines social distancing for in-person learning as three-to-six feet for students and fully vaccinated staff, although the board says six feet distance remains safest.

The health department is no longer recommending school districts perform coronavirus screening on school grounds. However, the Board of Education advises districts may continue to do so if that’s their preference. The board also said students who are at increased risk for severe illness must be provided with the option of remote learning.

Education officials say regardless of the level of community transmission, schools are required to use personal protection equipment, including face masks and to conduct contact tracing and isolate those with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

Illinois teachers and school staff are in the state’s 1B vaccination group, and their vaccinations will be prioritized until all teachers and staff have received a vaccine.