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In Your School

What precautions can be taken to protect the health and safety of students, teachers, staff, and their families?

  • Wearing a face covering.
  • Maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others.
  • Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or inside of elbow, throwing the tissue away, and then washing hands.
  • Avoiding touching one’s eyes, nose, mouth, and face covering.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, including tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • Staying home when sick, or after being in close contact with a person with COVID-19.
  • Limiting use of shared objects and cleaning and disinfecting these objects frequently.

What can be done to protect staff and students from getting sick with COVID-19 while attending school?

  • Have a reopening plan for learning. Districts may decide to have in-person instruction, remote learning, or a hybrid of the two strategies. The school may open with in-person learning but should have a plan to change to all or partial remote learning in the event of COVID-19 cases or outbreaks occurring in the school.
  • Cohort students and staff. This means groups of the same students, and sometimes teachers or staff, stay together throughout the school day to minimize exposure for students, teachers, and staff across the school environment. Individuals who are in the same group of people will have fewer opportunities to be exposed to or transmit the virus to others, can be isolated or quarantined as a small group rather than requiring school-wide closure, and simplifies contact tracing in the event of a positive case.
  • Alternating schedules. Students rotate when they will physically attend school. This decreases opportunities for exposure and allows for thorough cleaning and disinfection protocols of empty classrooms and alternating days.
  • Education on prevention measures. Schools should teach and reinforce handwashing practices among all students, teachers, and staff.
  • Physical distancing. Schools should consider the use of physical guides, such as tape on floors or sidewalks, one-way routes in hallways, and signs on walls to help students, teachers, and staff remain at least 6 feet apart. Use seating charts for buses, cafeteria, and classrooms.
  • Face coverings. Appropriate and consistent use of cloth face coverings.

For more information, please see the Illinois State Board of Education guidance: https://www.isbe.net/Pages/covid19.aspx

How do I know if there is an outbreak in my school or my child’s school?

As of November 6, the State of Illinois has made school specific data, collected from contact tracing efforts, publicly available online. All school-related data will be updated on a weekly basis and can be found on the IDPH website here:

http://www.dph.illinois.gov/covid19/school-exposures?countyName=Illinois.

The data is broken down by individual schools, counties and three age groups: 5-11 years, 12-17 years, and 18-22 years. State-level data is not all inclusive as it is limited to outbreaks reported by local health departments and exposure data collected through contact tracing. Individual schools and local health departments remain the most accurate and immediate source of data, which is then reported by local health departments to IDPH. School districts are required to notify guardians of potential exposure to COVID-19.

The reported outbreaks do not include secondary cases that may occur in a household member who has not been in school grounds; however, the data does include people who associated with a COVID-positive student or staff during before and after school programs.