“All of these choices have cascading effects for
citizens and vulnerable populations when it comes to food access,
safety, childcare, and social services," said Governor JB Pritzker.
“We’ve seen what happens in places that didn’t move with urgency. I
ask all of you not to hesitate to do the right thing for your
family, your friends, and your community. One small step at a time,
we will get through this together.”
“We have seen evidence from influenza outbreaks that community
mitigation strategies, such a school closures, have an effect on
decreasing the severity of the outbreak,” said IDPH Director Dr.
Ngozi Ezike. “By taking these actions now, we hope to slow and limit
widespread transmission of this virus, which is essential to
ensuring our health care system is not overwhelmed as the disease
progresses through our state. School closures will help slow the
progression of the virus and we are asking for everyone’s help in
reducing the spread.”
“This is an unprecedented event in our lifetime, and we will get
through this together,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr.
Carmen I. Ayala. “Our administrators and educators have shown
extraordinary leadership during a time of very difficult decisions.
Schools closing will affect each community differently, and I want
our teachers, our students, and our families to know that the
Illinois State Board of Education is open and is here to help.”
Following extensive state-level analysis of coronavirus spread in
various countries and the social distancing measures that were put
in place, the State is taking the precautionary measure of closing
all K-12 schools in the state of Illinois from March 17 through
March 30. Schools with a spring break that falls outside of this
window should move their spring break to within this timeframe.
The Pritzker administration is working to ensure critical support
functions remain available to students across the state – including
their access to food, child care and safe environments.
Gov. Pritzker has assured school administrators that the state will
issue no penalties as a result of this closure. To provide support
to school districts across the state, the Illinois State Board of
Education will be fully staffed over the coming weekend and during
the closure period to work through individualized issues and
challenges in each district. An executive order to provide school
districts flexibility during this period is forthcoming.
On Thursday, the Illinois State Board of Education was granted a
waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to continue providing
meals to students in non-group settings. Students receiving free and
reduce priced breakfasts and lunches will be able to receive
grab-and-go meals each day, with some districts having the ability
to deliver and others offering parent pick up.
The Department of Children and Family Services is working closely
with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Illinois
Department of Public Health to ensure emergency and preparedness
plans are in place to keep youth in care and staff safe. All DCFS
group homes will remain open and take extra safety precautions.
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The Governor has also announced new economic measures to reduce the
burden on Illinois families.
Gov. Pritzker and Attorney General Raoul have urged the Illinois
Commerce Commission to immediately institute a moratorium on
shutoffs for all utility companies across Illinois – including
energy, telecommunications and water – until the state disaster
proclamation has been lifted. The administration is also requesting
changes to payment and collection policies to ensure Illinoisans
aren’t saddled with utility debt as a result of COVID-19.
The Governor is contacting the leaders of Illinois’
utility companies and urging them to maintain services for all
Illinoisans, regardless of their ability to pay, during this public
The Pritzker administration is working directly with the eight major
food banks across Illinois to expand services. The administration is
reaching out to food manufacturers to ensure food banks are
prioritized and can provide our vulnerable residents the food they
Earlier this week, the administration filed emergency rules granting
workers who are unemployed due to COVID-19 access to unemployment
benefits. The rules provide relief to people who may be restricted
in the type of work they can perform due to the outbreak.
AVAILABILITY OF TESTING
The Illinois Department of Public Health is working with state labs
and hospital partners to significantly increase testing capability.
At this time the administration believes testing can be sufficiently
increased to ensure the minimum level of surveillance testing needed
to appropriately monitor the spread of the virus.
Gov. Pritzker is continuing to pressure the federal government for
more tests to allow the state to deploy full surveillance testing.
HEIGHTENED VIGILANCE FOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC
Vulnerable populations remain a top priority as community spread
continues around the state, country and globe. Elderly and
immunocompromised residents should take extra caution when attending
gatherings of any size and avoid exposure to large groups of people
whenever possible. The state has implemented new staffing procedures
and strict guidelines restricting visitors at state-operated
long-term care facilities and is also working closely with private
nursing home and assisted living associations on the adoption of
Anyone experiencing symptoms should stay home, call their doctor and
plan a safe visit for examination. The general public is encouraged
to take social distancing practices, including avoiding events of
more than 250 people, working from home if possible and maintaining
social distance (6 feet) from anyone experiencing symptoms.
The Illinois Department of Public Health has a statewide COVID-19
hotline and website to answer any questions from the public or to
report a suspected case: call 1-800-889-3931 or visit
[OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR JB PRITZKER]