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This week’s release by the Illinois State Board of Education helped shed some light on what learning may look like in the fall. The release cited five base requirements in a return to learning.

MOUNT CARMEL — Wabash District 348 Schools received a better feel of what a return to the classroom in August might look like following a 60-page release of requirements by the Illinois State Board of Education on Tuesday.

While stressing an emphasis on the health and safety of students, the guidelines aim for schooling in Phase four of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s “Restore Illinois” plan.

Pritzker’s plan still calls for social distancing and max gatherings of 50 or less people in the second-to-last phase, which are unique factors to consider in a return to a classroom setting.

In their guidelines, the State Board of Education provided five requirements for reopening:

  • Require use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including face coverings;
  • Prohibit more than 50 individuals from gathering in one space;
  • Require social distancing be observed as much as possible;
  • Require that schools conduct symptom screenings and temperature checks or require that individuals self-certify that they are free of symptoms before entering school buildings;
  • Require an increase in schoolwide cleaning and disinfection.

While these recommendations are universal, local school districts are expected to draft up their own approach (while adhering to these requirements) for a return in the fall.

Shortly after the release, Wabash County 348 School District Superintendent Dr. Chuck Bleyer commented on the requirements, outlining it as “much anticipated” and assisting in tackling questions they may have for the fall.

“Over the last month, district personnel have been discussing options,” Bleyer added. “This guidance will accelerate those conversations, and I’m confident our district can put forth a plan that prioritizes the health and safety of our students while maintaining a dynamic learning environment.”

At last Monday’s School Board meeting Bleyer discussed the school district’s readiness in either a normal resumption of school, a hybrid-learning style, or remote learning. Bleyer expressed his confidence in the administration’s ability to adapt to any of the three, but likened the likely hybrid-learning style as a relative unknown.

This is still very much so a developing storyline, and could eventually be null if Pritzker’s plan is completed by the fall — which would require proven treatment of COVID-19 or a vaccine. But for now, it appears students will be required to wear masks in schools.

For more information, the full 60-page release can be found at www.ISBE.net/covid19.

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