ISBE/IDPH ISSUE EMERGENCY RULES AND UPDATED GUIDANCE DOCUMENTS - 9/22/2021

Documents

September 22, 2021

Within the last several days, ISBE and IDPH separately issued emergency rules on vaccination/testing requirements for school personnel and school exclusion, implementing recent Executive Orders issued by Governor Pritzker. ISBE and IDPH also updated the Joint Guidance, the FAQ, and other guidance documents. As we continue to digest all of the recently issued rules and documents, here is a summary with links to each document.

 

ISBE Emergency Rules – Vaccination and Testing of School Personnel

On September 17, 2021, ISBE issued emergency rules to implement Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order 2021-22 concerning vaccination and testing requirements for school personnel. Our article highlighting several important clarifications and new requirements in the ISBE emergency rules is available here.

 

Governor’s Executive Order 2021-24 – Exclusion of School Personnel and Students

On that same day, Governor Pritzker issued Executive Order 2021-24 on school exclusion for individuals with Confirmed and Probable COVID-19 cases, as well as those who are Close Contacts. The Executive Order requires all schools (public, non-public, and charter schools) to exclude students and school personnel who meet certain COVID-19-related criteria regardless of whether an isolation or quarantine order has been issued by a local health department. Schools must provide remote instruction to students during periods of school exclusion pursuant to the State Superintendent’s declaration. Our article discussing the Executive Order’s requirements is available here.

 

IDPH Emergency Rules – Exclusion of School Personnel and Students

Also on September 17, IDPH issued emergency rules implementing Executive Order 2021-24. The IDPH emergency rules reiterate the school exclusion requirements in the Executive Order and clarify that schools must conduct contact tracing to identify occurrences of COVID-19 and Close Contacts of COVID-19 cases in schools. The emergency rules also include important changes that appear to address potential gaps in rulemaking that have been the focus of recent litigation involving schools around the State. Notably, the emergency rules delete the definitions of “modified isolation” and “modified quarantine,” clarifying that exclusion from school is not considered isolation or quarantine. The emergency rules also state that “requiring vaccination, testing, or the wearing of masks, or excluding a Student or School Personnel consistent with this subsection shall not constitute isolation or quarantine under the [Department of Public Health] Act, 20 ILCS 2305/1.1 et seq., and may be done without a court order or order by a local health authority.”

 

IDPH Interim Guidance – Exclusion Protocols for School Personnel and Students

Additionally, IDPH issued Public Health Interim Guidance for Local Health Departments and Pre-K-12 Schools – COVID-19 Exclusion Protocols (September 21, 2021). The purpose of the document is to provide additional guidance for schools and local health departments for when students and school personnel must be excluded from school consistent with Executive Order 2021-24 and the Communicable Disease Code (77 Ill. Admin. Code 690.361 and 690.30(c)).

 

ISBE/IDPH Joint Guidance, FAQ, and Fact Sheet

ISBE and IDPH updated the Revised Public Health Guidance for Schools – Part 5 (September 21, 2021) (the “Joint Guidance”) and Frequently Asked Questions for Schools (September 21, 2021). Both documents contain important updates that align with Executive Orders 2021-22 and 2021-24 and the ISBE and IDPH emergency rules.

ISBE and IDPH also issued a helpful one-page fact sheet summarizing the requirements under Executive Order 2021-24 and the IDPH emergency rules on school exclusion. 

We recommend schools closely review the Executive Orders, ISBE and IDPH emergency rules, and various ISBE/IDPH guidance documents and consult with legal counsel regarding implementation.

2021 - 2022 UPDATED HEALTH GUIDELINES

The following are the Symptoms of Covid and your child must be kept home if experiencing any of the symptoms and be tested for Covid before returning to school. 

  • Fever (greater than 100.4)

  • New onset Moderate to severe headache

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Sore Throat

  • Cough

  • Shortness of breath

  • New cough

  • New loss of taste or smell

  • Fatigue from an unknown cause

  • Muscle aches from an unknown cause

 

Current Health guidelines for 2021 – 2022 School Year

  • If your child has any of the above symptoms they must be kept home and get a covid test before returning to school. (The test can be a rapid antigen test or a PCR test).  They must also be symptom free for 24 hours before returning to school.

  • Siblings are able to come to school until the ill sibling’s covid test returns and if the child has a positive covid test all siblings must be sent home.

  • If you choose not to have your child tested for covid they and their siblings will be out of school for at least 10 days.

  • If the ill child test negative the siblings can return to school

  • If your child tests positive all siblings are out of school for 10 days, from the date of the ill child’s test.  If any of the sibling’s experience even one symptom during the 10 days their quarantine extends to 14 days. If any of the siblings are vaccinated they do not have to quarantine, unless they become symptomatic.

  • If your child is vaccinated and they are exposed to covid they do not have to quarantine unless they themselves are showing symptoms

  • If your child comes to the nurse during school and is not feeling well, parent’s will be called and asked if you want your child tested for covid using the rapid antigen nasal swab.  If they test negative they may be sent home depending on their symptoms but their siblings can remain at school.  If they are positive all siblings will be sent home except for those who are vaccinated. If you do not want your child tested, they will have to be out of school for 10 days.

 

If your child is identified as a close contact:

  • As long as everyone is wearing a mask, we now have, Test to Stay for close contacts at school that includes testing those students on days 1,3,5,7 from exposure. If any of the students or staff are unmasked the test to stay cannot be used. This will allow them to remain in school and sports as long as they remain testing negative. If you choose not to have your child tested they will be out of school at least 10 days.

  • Test to Stay does not include household members or if you are a close contact outside of the school setting, (this includes lunch).

  • If your child is vaccinated they will not have to quarantine unless they themselves become symptomatic, but it is recommended that they be tested one time between day 3-5 of exposure.

  • Close contacts are identified within 3 feet in the classroom and 6 feet on the school bus and at lunch.

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UPDATED RETURN TO SCHOOL PLAN - AUGUST 13, 2021

August 13, 2021

 

 

Dear Mercer County School District Students, Staff, and Families,

 

In July we put out a plan consistent with the intention of the CDC, IDPH, and ISBE guidance where local positivity rates were taken into consideration, local capacity to mitigate was taken into consideration, and the lessons learned from a district that was in-person virtually all year in 2020-21.  That plan was developed collaboratively with our association, our administration, and our Board of Education as a representative group of our community.

 

The most common question we received related to masking. At that time masking was recommended for unvaccinated individuals, it was not required except on school buses, as it was during the 2020-2021 school year. School districts had been given greater latitude to make decisions based on local conditions. Given those parameters and the current conditions, Mercer County Schools chose to make masks optional. However, on August 4, 2021 Executive Order 2021-18 changed all that. While there is debate about the authority of the Governor, IDPH, and ISBE to enforce the order or the consequences outlined in State Superintendent Ayala’s letter dated August 11, our Board and district have followed the advice of our legal counsel, the school board association, our insurance carrier and others to abide by the universal indoor masking requirement. I know many parents feel abandoned by this decision, but many others are relieved. Younger students and their parents have not had an opportunity to choose whether or not to be vaccinated. I sincerely hope that when that occurs, the order will be lifted and districts will once again chart their own course.

 

In spite of the mask mandate, other changes in guidance are much appreciated. The joint guidance no longer recommends fever and symptom screening. Students and staff who do not feel well should stay home and not return to school until they are symptom free for 24 hours. In addition, quarantine protocols have changed. With masking the distance is reduced to three feet and the Test to Stay protocol allows non-symptomatic students to remain in school as long as they test negative utilizing a rapid screen on days one, three, five and seven.

 

We will continue to closely monitor local conditions and the broader recommendations regarding coronavirus from the above organizations. Updates and changes are likely as we experienced last year, but our staff and students are resilient, and we are looking forward to starting the 2021-2022 school year under much more normal conditions. Thank you for your support in helping to keep our school community healthy and in-person.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Scott Petrie

Superintendent

CLICK HERE FOR THE RETURN TO SCHOOL PLAN

CLICK HERE FOR TEST TO STAY INFORMATION

CLICK HERE FOR THE MEDICAL EVIDENCE FORM

AVOIDING CORONAVIRUS FINANCIAL SCAMS