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Pritzker orders schools to ‘exclude’ people with COVID-19 and their close contacts

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Schools in Illinois should exclude students and staff with confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases or those who come in close contact with sick people, according to a new executive order Gov. JB Pritzker filed late Friday night.

Under this executive order, schools are obligated to exclude students or school personnel with confirmed or probable COVID cases. The order states schools must refuse entry to the premises, extracurricular activities, or any other events organized by the school.

This executive order says students or staff must be excluded for at least 10 days from the onset of the symptoms. The period would start on the date of their COVID-19 test if the person is asymptomatic.

Schools must also exclude close contacts for at least 14 days. However, a school’s local health department could recommend exclusion for 10 days or seven days with a negative test on day six.

“The schools and local health departments are helping to separate people, to quarantine them, to keep them from infecting other people and to give them the opportunity to test and then come back into the institution,” Pritzker said Monday.

Remote learning for excluded students

The order states that all schools must make remote learning available for excluded students. That solidifies a resolution that the State Board of Education approved earlier this month.

ISBE members want to ensure students still learn while out of school for COVID-19 related issues. This should address concerns from parents of students out of class due to COVID-19 protocols.

Attorney Tom DeVore recently won several court cases where school districts excluded students without a court-ordered quarantine, including a case against Quincy Public Schools and Superintendent Roy Webb.

“I know that there are people that are attempting to challenge these things in court,” Pritzker said. “I would just say that this is a very unhelpful thing to do and it is going to make schools and health care settings less safe.”

Pritzker’s order also clarifies that state agencies may create emergency rules to help implement this executive order.

Nothing in the latest order prevents local health departments from issuing orders for isolation or quarantine.

School leaders could also take more stringent measures to keep students and staff safe.

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Mike Miletich

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