Illinois Schools Call on State Board to Restore Local Control

Superintendents from across the state are asking Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to allow districts to make their own decisions on COVID-19 protocols for the fall.

Nearly 250 superintendents sent a letter to ISBE and the Governor’s office this week, to “request local control in the implementation of COVID-19 safety measures and protocols utilized within each school district.”

This letter follows a similar effort from the members of the Large Unit District Association (LUDA), which includes more than 50 Illinois schools with enrollments of more than 3,500 students. In their letter, LUDA members requested updated guidance from the state, and that “social distancing, quarantining, and masking guidelines in schools be consistent with health guidelines of Phase 5 as applied to other venues in Illinois.”

Despite the state’s move into Phase 5, where most venues, public places, and businesses have returned to normal, the Pritzker Administration is still requiring students and staff to wear masks in school.

ISBE recently communicated to schools that the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) expects that the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will update federal guidance sometime in July, and that IDPH will then issue its own updated guidance for the fall.

While schools are still waiting on updated guidance from the state, ISBE has placed one school district on probation, following the local school board’s vote to make masks recommended but not required.

State Senator Darren Bailey says that state government should be supporting and assisting school districts to make the best decisions possible for the safety of their students and staff, and to offer districts the flexibility they need to deal with changing situations in their communities.

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