McDONOUGH COUNTY — During Tuesday’s Facebook Live daily COVID-19 press conference, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced the guidelines which will allow in-person instruction in all Illinois Pre K-12 schools during Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan.

Pritzker started his address with praise for residents’ dedication to slowing the spread of COVID-19 with handwashing, face coverings and keeping a physical distance of at least six feet.

He said he and state officials are confident to reopen Illinois public and private schools and urged people to continue practicing those measures for months in case Phase 4 lasts longer than 28 days or in case another outbreak results in the state returning to Phase 1.

Pritzker said each public school district and private school in Illinois will create and use their individual reopening plans which fit the students’ needs in their local communities.

The governor said that while schools could form their own individual reopening plans, they still must follow Phase 4 guidelines of wearing face coverings, physical distancing and groups of 50 or less in one area.

Pritzker also said schools are required to conduct temperature and symptoms checks or people must self-check to ensure they do not have any symptoms before entering the school building.

Schools are also required to have frequent cleanings and disinfection to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Pritzker said that the Illinois Emergency Management Agency will provide over 2.5 million cloth face masks to Illinois public school districts for their students, teachers and staff at no cost to the district. He said that no child should be denied an education because of a family’s inability to afford a cloth face mask.

In addition, Pritzker announced that the Illinois State Board of Education and Chief Procurement Office Bureau of Strategic Sourcing have arranged purchasing agreements for K-12 school districts to get the necessary supplies like hand sanitizer, personal protection equipment and cleaning supplies that they need to keep their schools safe at a more competitive rate than what the districts would pay on their own.

The governor said that the ISBE received $569 million for K-12 education through the CARES Act.

Out of the funds, $512 million of the funds will be sent to local school districts to help them combat COVID-19. The remaining funds will be used to provide laptops/tablets, Internet connectivity, teacher professional development, virtual training for teachers and other supports that the school district needs from the state.

As of June 19, 580 educational agencies applied for funds, with $3 million of those funds distributed to 534 educational agencies.

In case COVID-19 numbers get worse during Phase 4 or a second wave of the virus occurs during the school year, Pritzker said that schools should be ready to resume remote learning.

During public health emergencies, school districts can use remote learning and blended learning days to allow them the flexibility they need to educate their students, thanks to rules signed into law by the governor.

Local plans

Macomb CUSD 185 announced on Friday that the school district will undergo a two-day in-person instruction and three-day remote learning hybrid plan. As of Tuesday, Bushnell-Prairie City CUSD 170 and West Prairie CUSD 103 had not made any school reopening announcements on their websites or Facebook pages.

The full COVID-19 list of guidelines for K-12 schools from the ISBE can be found here: https://www.isbe.net/Documents/Part-3-Transition-Planning-Phase-4.pdf

Email editor@mcdonoughvoice.com with comments or questions on this story.

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