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 the 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.”

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released their updated guidance for K-12 schools for the fall. Later that day, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) released their own guidance largely mirroring the federal recommendations.

According to the new rules, vaccinated teachers and students are not required to wear masks in schools. As of right now, no vaccination is approved for children under 12 years old, meaning those students will be required to wear masks.

Currently ISBE has placed one school district on probation, following the local school board’s vote to make masks recommended but not required.

State Senator Fowler 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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