CHICAGO (WBBM Newsradio) — Illinois schools, colleges and universities will reopen in the fall with guidance from state government but will operate according to their own unique circumstances, Gov. JB Pritzker said Tuesday.
The governor emphasized the return of in-person learning under Phase 4 of his Restore Illinois plan. Each district will develop its own reopening plan while following state guidelines that include mask-wearing, a cap of 50 people per space, aggressive cleaning and the need to keep social distance between individuals.
There will be no state sign-off on local plans. County public health departments are expected to collaborate with individual school districts to review their reopening plans, Pritzker said.
The in-person educational experience will vary from district to district, depending on their buildings, number of students and resources.
“This fall will not be business as usual,” Illinois School Supt. Carmen Ayala said at a media briefing.
Some schools may choose to stagger schedules so that some students learn remotely while others show up for class. All schools will be expected to shift to distance learning if COVID-19 cases again surge, Pritzker said.
The state will distribute cloth masks to all students, staff members and teachers at public schools, the governor said.
Friday’s target to begin Phase 4 of reopening in Illinois comes as the state’s coronavirus statistics continue to trend downward.
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Tuesday reported 601 new confirmed cases of novel coronavirus, including 38 additional confirmed deaths. The state’s total number of coronavirus cases has grown to 137,825 across Illinois, including 6,707 lives lost.