The governor was joined by Illinois Department of
Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Illinois State Board
of Education (ISBE) Director Dr. Carmen Ayala, Illinois Association
of School Boards Executive Director Tom Bertrand, Illinois Board of
Higher Education (IBHE) Executive Director Ginger Ostro and Illinois
Community College Board (ICCB) Executive Director Dr. Brian Durham
for today’s announcement. This guidance follows the release of
industry-specific guidelines for Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois
Plan, announced yesterday.
“Classroom learning provides necessary opportunities for our
students to learn, socialize, and grow. The benefits of in-person
instruction can’t be overstated,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Today
ISBE, IBHE, and ICCB are issuing guidance that will serve as
baseline public health requirements and expectations for the return
of in-person learning this fall in P-12 schools and higher
education, including all public school districts, non-public
schools, colleges and universities. In close consultation with IDPH,
infectious disease experts at the University of Illinois at Chicago,
and other public health professionals, the guidance focuses on
keeping students, teachers and families healthy and safe. It
recognizes that Illinois is a diverse state, and school districts
and institutions of higher education across Illinois will face
unique challenges in how they’ll operate within their communities.”
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) received $569 million
in federal funding from the CARES Act for K-12 education,
approximately $512 million of which will go directly to school
districts to address local needs in response to the COVID-19
pandemic. IBSE will use the remaining $54.1 million to provide
additional funding to schools in six categories: laptops and
tablets, internet connectivity, virtual coaching for teachers,
professional development, and support for entities who cannot
receive direct funds due to ineligibility for Title I.
Local education agencies must apply to ISBE to receive funding from
the CARES Act and the amount received will be based on the number
and percentage of low-income students they serve. ISBE has already
received applications from 580 local education agencies for this
funding, with the goal of purchasing a variety of tools and
resources, including technology devices, WiFi hotspots, and health
and safety equipment for schools in need. Local school districts
also plan to use funding to hire mental health support staff to
provide services for students, families, and staff. ISBE has
approved 534 applications thus far and distributed nearly three
million dollars in funds.
GUIDANCE FOR K-12 SCHOOLS
The guidance released by ISBE and IDPH today allows schools to bring
students back to school buildings in the fall while ensuring the
health and safety of students and staff remains the top priority.
The guidance was developed in collaboration with 56 educators,
superintendents, social workers, nurses, and other stakeholders from
across the state. View the guidance here.
“Nothing compares to face-to-face interactions between students and
their teachers,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen
I. Ayala. “The dedication of Illinoisans to social distancing over
the past several months has allowed us to plan to bring students
back to classrooms this fall while keeping health and safety our
number one priority. This fall will not be ‘business as usual’ in
more ways than one. Our students will return to us transformed and
hungry for knowledge that contextualizes current events. I urge
schools to use summer to readjust curricula to honor these historic
times and to continue to be diligent in following safety protocols.”
Each school district will determine how to implement the guidance
based on its unique student enrollment, school facilities, staffing,
transportation, and technological capacity. ISBE strongly encourages
schools and districts to provide in-person instruction for all
students, especially those under age 13, to ensure children have
rich instructional environments.
The IDPH requirements for schools to reopen in Phase 4 are:
Require use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE),
including face coverings;
Prohibit more than 50 individuals from gathering in one
Require social distancing whenever possible;
Conduct symptom screenings and temperature checks or require
self-certification that individuals entering school buildings are
symptom free; and
Increase schoolwide cleaning and disinfection.
To ensure Illinois school districts are able to obtain the necessary
supplies to resume in person instruction safely, ISBE and the Chief
Procurement Office Bureau of Strategic Sourcing have secured several
joint purchase agreements that K-12 can utilize to obtain supplies
at prices that may be more competitive than purchasing on their own.
ISBE will continue to expand the number of purchasing agreements in
the coming weeks.
“In developing this guidance, we have put a focus on making sure
in-person instruction is done safely and in an equitable way,” said
Brenda Calvin, principal of Sauk Elementary School in Matteson and a
member of the Transition Advisory Workgroup. “As a principal, I am
looking forward to seeing students and teachers back in the
classroom, and this document provides administrators across the
state with the guidance and support they need to plan for the fall,
no matter what their school looks like. I thank ISBE, IDPH, and
Governor Pritzker for continuing to emphasize equity as we return to
in-person instruction and for continuing to care for the well-being
of all students in the state of Illinois.”
“The Phase 4 guidance for schools focuses on the unique context of
the 852 school districts in the state of Illinois,” said Dr.
Jennifer Garrison, superintendent of Vandalia Community Unit School
District 203. “We acknowledge and thank the Governor's Office for
the emphasis on local control. We must focus on the safety of our
staff and students first and foremost and at the same time be
creative in how we return to learning in-person, specifically in
Vandalia Schools. The opportunity to have a seat at the table and
bring the downstate rural voice to the table is greatly appreciated.
As educators, we have had many challenges before, and now is our
time to turn the challenges before us into a unique opportunity to
innovate with a laser-like focus on equity.”
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“I am grateful that ISBE reached out to a variety of
education stakeholders in developing this transition plan,” said
Lindsey Jensen, 2018 Illinois Teacher of the Year, member of the
Transition Advisory Workgroup, and teacher at Dwight Township High
School. “In these unprecedented times, we are each other’s greatest
resource. Having a variety of voices at the proverbial table ensures
that we are considering all facets of education so that we can
equitably meet the needs of all students when they return to our
GUIDANCE FOR HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS
The Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) established guidelines
for higher education institutions to safely reopen their classrooms
based on input from IDPH and higher education leaders throughout
Illinois. When students return to campus this fall, they can expect
new prevention measures from colleges and universities including
social distancing, physical spacing, hand sanitizing stations, face
covering requirements, and regular monitoring of students for
symptoms of COVID-19.
Schools are developing policies around traffic flow, cleaning of
public spaces, and staggered schedules for the use of laboratories,
auditoriums and other group facilities. Small-group sessions and
meetings with professors will also have to adhere to social
distancing guidelines. Nevertheless, colleges expect dormitories,
cafeterias, libraries, bookstores, and other amenities of college
life to be available to students, subject to the approved
“The path to personal success runs right through our schools,
classrooms, colleges and universities. A good education means a good
future for you and your families. When the economy rebounds, we want
our students to be prepared for those jobs and that means--stay the
course and stay in school,” said Ginger Ostro, IBHE Executive
The full list of guidelines is available at The Illinois Board of
Higher Education website.
As each region across the state prepares to enter Phase 4 of the
Restore Illinois plan, Illinois community colleges are committed to
welcoming students back to campus in the fall of 2020.
“The Illinois Community College Board’s guidance provides community
colleges with a roadmap for delivering critical instructional
programs within the context of Governor Pritzker’s Restore
Illinois,” said Dr. Lazaro Lopez, Chair of the ICCB.
“The guidance will assist all community colleges in the development
of plans that ensure the health, safety, and support of students
while continuing to provide high quality instruction,” said Dr.
Brian Durham, Executive Director of the ICCB.
Guidance for Illinois’ community colleges takes into consideration
where each institution is located and is separated into three main
categories: General Health and Safety, Instructional Guidelines, and
Student Services. Among the key recommendations are:
In person education will require face coverings to be worn by
faculty, staff and students.
Community colleges should conduct health screenings on employees,
students and visitors before each campus visit.
Community colleges should take additional measures to ensure social
distancing and safety as determined by the features of spaces,
learning methods, and other factors.
Each community college should consider the needs of vulnerable
staff or students when administering guidelines.
The guidance was developed in partnership with the ICCB’s Return to
Campus Committee and approved by IDPH. The full list of guidelines
is available at the ICCB website.
FINANCIAL AID ASSISTANCE AND COLLEGE PLANNING
As students prepare to return to higher education institutions this
fall, the administration is offering information and guidance
regarding financial aid. The Illinois Student Assistance Commission
(ISAC) offers assistance to students in completing the Free
Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the recently launched
Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid, a path to
financial aid for undocumented and transgender students made
possible by Governor Pritzker.
“The Illinois Student Assistance Commission is here to support
students on their path to—or back to—college this fall,” said Eric
Zarnikow, Executive Director of ISAC. “We continue to provide free
resources to help students and families with college planning and
financial aid through one-on-one assistance from the ISACorps
members in their community, our call center, and the tools and
resources on our website, at www.isac.org. If you need help
completing your FAFSA or Alternative Application for Illinois
Financial Aid or in seeking financial aid adjustments based on
changed financial circumstances, or just aren’t sure how to find
your educational path beyond high school, please contact us for
Thousands of Illinois families are facing new financial challenges
as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. If needed, students
can seek an adjustment in their financial aid offers from colleges
and universities for the fall based on a change in their financial
circumstances. Students in need of additional financial assistance
should contact the financial aid office at the colleges or
universities where they are enrolled or have been admitted. ISAC is
available to guide students and families through this process.
ISAC also offers additional support services like “ISAC College
Q&A,” a free text messaging service that helps students stay on
track with their college plans. Through ISAC College Q&A, students
and families can get answers to college planning and financial aid
questions, as well as reminders for important deadlines, sent
directly to their phones from ISAC experts. Interested families can
sign up online here. Assistance is available in English and Spanish.
Families looking for additional resources and links specifically
related to returning to campus and financial aid during the COVID-19
pandemic should visit
[Text from file received from