Section 1: School Mitigation Measures. All public and nonpublic schools in Illinois serving pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students must follow the join guidance issued by ISBE and IDPH and take proactive measures to ensure the safety of students, staff, and visitors, including, but not limited to:
a. Requiring the indoor use of face coverings by students, staff, and visitors, who are over age two and able to medically tolerate a face covering, regardless of vaccination status, consistent with CDC guidance; and,
b. Implementing other layered prevention strategies (such as physical distancing, screening testing, ventilation, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, advising individuals to stay home when sick and get tested, contact tracing in combination with appropriate quarantine and isolation, and cleaning and disinfection) to the greatest extent possible and taking into consideration factors such as community transmission, vaccination coverage, screening testing, and occurrence of outbreaks, consistent with CDC guidance.
A copy of this guidance can be found HERE.
There are mixed and strong emotions surrounding this and there are a few districts who have voted to defy the executive order. One such district has already been stripped of its School Recognition Status making that district unable to award diplomas, its students participate in athletics, and jeopardizing district funding. Their legal counsel has already contacted ISBE to appeal reversing that decision and has assured ISBE that the district will be following the mandate. Last night, after a spirited and sometime heated debate, the B-PC Board of Education voted to comply with this mandate. Board members were diligent in gathering information from public health officials, their insurance broker, the District's attorney, and many other sources to inform their decision. All members are to be commended for voting in a manner they feel is in the best interest of our school district.
This has created an unfortunate and unnecessary divide, but I'm confident that we can all agree to at least one thing - we need kids back in school. Staff have been encouraged to remain positive and focus on what their primary responsibility is; to ready their buildings and classrooms to welcome students back next Wednesday. We are hopeful that parents who are unhappy with the source of this debate (the Governor and his executive order) do not bring the fight and the disruption to classrooms when students so need the time in front of teachers and coaches. Time that was lost to them last year. Regardless of how you feel on this issue, please don't take those energies to classrooms and buildings, but where most effective . . . to your senators, your representatives, the Governor, and the Illinois State Board of Education.
Lastly, we have started to field questions about the procedures associated with the executive order, particularly the wearing of masks. The directives below were provided by our attorneys.
- Do not allow the students to attend classes or events without masks, unless you have been provided a medical exemption by a licensed physician. Religious exemptions are not accepted. Do not force the student to wear a mask in opposition to their parent's directive. Require the student to remain in a safe and supervised area (with social distancing) until a parent is contacted and reliable transportation home can be arranged. Note, this is not a disciplinary removal from school. In most cases it will be an unexcused absence due to the parent failing to follow the rules in sending their child to school.
- Staff should be given the choice of complying with the mask mandate or leaving the building. Follow your collective bargaining agreement and district policy manual in terms of process and consequences.
- Do not allow school visitors without masks to enter the building.