The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released streamlined COVID-19 guidance for schools, which the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) are fully adopting. Please review the CDC’s updated Operational Guidance for K-12 Schools and Early Care and Education Programs to Support Safe In-Person Learning and related CDC FAQ.
CDC said in its announcement: “We’re in a stronger place today as a nation, with more tools — like vaccination, boosters, and treatments — to protect ourselves, and our communities, from severe illness from COVID-19. We also have a better understanding of how to protect people from being exposed to the virus, like
wearing high-quality masks, testing, and improved ventilation. This guidance acknowledges that the pandemic is not over, but also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives.”
IDPH is hosting another webinar opportunity at 10 a.m. Aug. 23 for school districts to learn more about the guidance, as well as strategies to prevent the spread of Monkeypox. If you did not have an opportunity to join the earlier webinar, please register here.
Here is a summary of key revisions to the guidance to continue to keep students, staff, and families safe:
- Removes the recommendation to quarantine for close contacts (individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19 should wear a well-fitted mask for 10 full days after exposure and should get tested on day 6)
- No longer recommends routine screening testing in K-12 schools (focus testing on high-risk activities during high COVID-19 Community Level or in response to an outbreak)
- Removes the recommendation for separating students into cohorts (eases social distancing guidelines, which Illinois has already been following)
- Eliminates the recommendation to Test to Stay after potential exposure
Please also note that districts must continue to provide remote learning to any student who is in isolation for COVID-19, per the State Superintendent’s Remote Learning Declaration.
The streamlining of this new CDC school guidance aligns with Community Levels for its recommendations, as community levels can help schools and local health departments make decisions based on their local context and their unique needs.
CDC guidance also maintains the importance of continuing to establish and support policies that makes getting vaccinated easy and convenient. Schools are encouraged to create on-site opportunities by hosting school-located vaccination clinics, or connecting eligible children, students, staff, and families to off-site vaccination locations.
Schools are encouraged to follow daily operational strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases, such as: keeping students and staff at home who are ill; maintaining clean, disinfected facilities; proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette; and improved ventilation systems. For more information, please visit the Centers for Disease Control website.