Schools finally regaining some local control

The final decision-making authority over COVID-19 protocols in the classroom has been restored to locally-elected school boards.

On July 9, 2021, the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released its updated Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in Kindergarten (K)-12 Schools. Immediately thereafter, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced it was fully adopting the CDC’s updated guidance for schools.

The updated guidance that school districts received from the state on masking and social distancing in the classroom comes in the form of recommendations instead of requirements. By making these recommendations, it allows local school districts to make final determinations based on what works best for their communities.

While school officials now have final say on COVID-19 protocols within their buildings, the updated guidance states masks “should” be worn indoors by all individuals (ages 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated, and recommends that if school administrators remove any prevention strategies based on local conditions that they should do so “one at a time” to monitor the effect on COVID-19 cases.

Despite the local control, masks will still be required for all passengers on school buses in accordance with CDC guidelines, regardless of the school’s mask policies.

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