- Students benefit from in-person learning, and safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall 2021 is a priority.
- Vaccination is currently the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Promoting vaccination can help schools safely return to in-person learning as well as extracurricular activities and sports.
- Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated. Consistent and correct mask use by people who are not fully vaccinated is especially important indoors and in crowded settings, when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
- CDC recommends schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask-wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated, to reduce transmission risk. When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet, such as when schools cannot fully re-open while maintaining these distances, it is especially important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as indoor masking.
- Screening testing, ventilation, handwashing, and respiratory etiquette, staying home when sick and getting tested, contact tracing in combination with quarantine and isolation, and cleaning and disinfection are also important layers of prevention to keep schools safe.
- Students, teachers, and staff should stay home when they have signs of any infectious illness and be referred to their healthcare provider for testing and care.
- Many schools serve children under the age of 12 who are not eligible for vaccination at this time. Therefore, this guidance emphasizes implementing layered prevention strategies (e.g., using multiple prevention strategies together consistently) to protect people who are not fully vaccinated, including students, teachers, staff, and other members of their households.
- COVID-19 prevention strategies remain critical to protect people, including students, teachers, and staff, who are not fully vaccinated, especially in areas of moderate-to-high community transmission levels.
- Localities should monitor community transmission, vaccination coverage, screening testing, and occurrence of outbreaks to guide decisions on the level of layered prevention strategies (e.g., physical distancing, screening testing).
Newly Released U.S. Department of Education Releases “Return to School Roadmap” to Support Students, Schools, Educators, and Communities in Preparing for the 2021-2022 School Year AUGUST 2, 2021
The U.S. Department of Education (Department) released the “Return to School Roadmap,” a resource to support students, schools, educators, and communities as they prepare to return to safe, healthy in-person learning this fall and emerge from the pandemic stronger than before. The Roadmap provides key resources and supports for students, parents, educators, and school communities to build excitement around returning to classrooms this school year and outlines how federal funding can support the safe and sustained return to in-person learning. The Roadmap will lay out actionable strategies to implement the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) updated guidance for K-12 schools, so that schools can minimize transmission and sustain in-person learning all school-year long.
As part of the launch of the Return to School Roadmap, the Department released:
- A fact sheet for schools, families, and communities on the Return to School Roadmap, reviewing the three “Landmark” priorities, and elevating schools and districts that are addressing each in effective ways.
- A guide for schools and districts outlining what schools can do to protect the health and safety of students, including increasing access to vaccinations and steps for implementing the CDC’s recently updated K-12 school guidance.
- A checklist that parents can use to prepare themselves and their children for a safe return to in-person learning this fall, leading with vaccinating eligible children and masking up if students are not yet vaccinated.
Secretary DeVos Reiterates Learning Must Continue for All Students, Declines to Seek Congressional Waivers to FAPE, LRE Requirements of IDEA April 27, 2020
As requested by Congress in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Secretary DeVos examined certain federal education laws to determine what, if any, additional waiver authority the Secretary believes is necessary to provide limited flexibility to state and local education agencies during this unprecedented time. The Secretary determined there is no reason that a student’s access to FAPE cannot continue online, through distance education or other alternative strategies.
Supplemental Fact Sheet Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities March 21, 2020
The Department stands ready to offer guidance, technical assistance, and information on any available flexibility, within the confines of the law, to ensure that all students, including students with disabilities, continue
receiving excellent education during this difficult time. The Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) have previously issued non-regulatory guidance addressing these issues.
Fact Sheet: Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Schools While Protecting the Civil Rights of Students March 16, 2020
The U.S. Department of Education (Department) has established a working group to provide information and resources to parents, students, teachers, schools, and school personnel related to the possible outbreak of COVID-19 (“coronavirus”) in school districts and postsecondary schools. Schools play an important role in disseminating information about and limiting the spread of the coronavirus. In addressing the possible risk of an outbreak of coronavirus in school districts and postsecondary schools, school officials must keep students safe and secure. In doing so, school officials should keep in mind federal civil rights requirements and respond appropriately to allegations of discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, or disability.
Questions And Answers On Providing Services To Children With Disabilities During The Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak March 2020
This Questions and Answers document outlines states’ responsibilities to infants, toddlers, and children with disabilities and their families, and to the staff serving these children. During an outbreak of COVID-19, local educational agencies (LEAs) and early intervention service (EIS) programs will need to collaborate with their state educational agency (SEA), Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), or local public health department, as appropriate, to address questions about how, what, and when services should be provided to children with disabilities. 1 It does not create or confer any rights for or on any person. This Q & A document does not impose any additional requirements beyond those included in applicable law and regulations. The responses presented in this document generally constitute informal guidance representing the interpretation of the Department of the applicable statutory or regulatory requirements in the context of the specific facts presented here and are not legally binding. The Q & As in this document are not intended to be a replacement for careful study of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II), and their implementing regulations. The IDEA, its implementing regulations, and other important documents related to the IDEA can be found at http://sites.ed.gov/idea. For more information on the requirements of Section 504 and Title II, and their implementing regulations, please consult https://www2.ed.gov/policy/rights/guid/ocr/disabilityoverview.html
Illinois Education Guidance
(Newly Released)Revised Public Health Guidance for Schools PART 5 — SUPPORTING THE FULL RETURN TO IN-PERSON LEARNING FOR ALL STUDENTS AUGUST 2021
In-person learning with the appropriate protective measures should be both safe and essential to students’ mental health and academic growth. In its scientific brief on transmission of SARSCoV-2 in K-12 schools, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites several sources that suggest lower prevalence of disease, susceptibility, and transmission in children – especially those under the age of 10 – although additional studies are needed to further understand this finding. Further, the authors cite recent studies documenting that, with prevention strategies in place, in-person learning was not associated with higher levels of transmission when compared to communities without in-person learning.1 2 3 The majority of students need full-time in-person access to their teachers and support network at school to stay engaged, to learn effectively, and to maintain social-emotional wellness. A recent study from the CDC4 suggests that remote learning can be challenging for many students, leading not only to learning loss, but also worsening mental health for children as well as parents. CDC found that students of color were more likely to miss out on in-person learning: nationwide, in April, only 59 percent of Hispanic students, 63 percent of Black students, and 75 percent of White students had access to full-time in-person school. Restoring full-time in-person learning for all students is essential to our state’s commitment to educational equity. See complete Guide
-Multilingual Language page 21
-Special education and Related Services are on page 30.