The Illinois Department of Public Health partnered with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and other education officials across the state to formulate practical and effective guidance to help schools and colleges resume instruction in the coming months.

Here are a few changes you may see at your child’s school this fall:

• Face masks will be required.
• Assemblies and other gatherings of more than 50 individuals will be prohibited.
• Social distancing will be practiced whenever possible.
• People entering school buildings may be subject to symptom screenings and temperature checks.
• Schools will ramp up cleaning and disinfection procedures to ensure all areas are safe for students and staff.

Each school district will determine how to implement these rules based on their individual needs and available resources. The complete guidance for K-12 schools can be found here.

Colleges and universities have also been provided specific recommendations, including mask requirements, the installation of hand sanitizing stations and regular symptom monitoring. Even with these changes, colleges expect dormitories, cafeterias, libraries, bookstores and other amenities of college life to remain available to students. The Illinois Community College Board has developed a separate plan for community colleges to facilitate a return to campus.

For students preparing to pursue higher education this fall, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission is offering free one-on-one assistance and other online resources to help navigate financial aid programs. Families can also sign up for a free text messaging service to get reminders for important deadlines and answers to college planning questions.

To make sure all schools can meet these guidelines and prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency will provide public K-12 districts with 2.5 million cloth face masks for all students and staff.

Although this transition won’t be easy, it’s vital students stay engaged in learning—enabling in-person instruction is the first step toward ensuring a full recovery for our schools after the COVID-19 crisis.


Category: News

As a result of social distancing measures, mask requirements, and other health and safety precautions, the statewide COVID-19 positivity rate continues to fall. Illinois is on the road to recovery.

All four regions of the state are currently on track to move into Phase 4 on June 26, which is expected to bring 400,000 Illinoisans back to work. That means gyms, movie theaters, museums and zoos will resume operations, and restaurants can reopen their dining rooms. Gatherings of up to 50 people will be allowed.

The Illinois Department of Public Health collaborated with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and over 150 businesses across the state to formulate practical and effective Phase 4 guidelines for every industry to keep workers and customers safe.

Here are some activities you can expect to resume in Phase 4:

  • Venues, meeting spaces and select indoor facilities (including bowling alleys, skating rinks and clubhouses) can reopen with 50% room capacity or for groups of up to 50 people.
  • Restaurants can resume indoor dining for parties of up to 10 people, as long as tables are 6 feet apart and standing areas are limited at 25% capacity.
  • Museums and zoos can reopen with up to 25% occupancy. Interactive exhibits and rides will remain closed, and guided tours should be limited to 50 people or fewer per group.
  • Movie theaters and cinemas can allow admission of up to 50 guests or 50% room capacity. Outdoor theaters can operate at 20% capacity. Concessions will be permitted, with some restrictions.
  • Outdoor spectator sports can resume with no more than 20% seating capacity.

Some industries will be able to expand operations during Phase 4:

  • Youth and recreational sports venues can operate at 50% facility capacity, and 20% seating capacity for spectators. Practices, tournaments and other competitive gameplay can resume with limited interaction between groups.
  • Health and fitness centers can reopen at 50% capacity, and indoor fitness classes of up to 50 people can resume.
  • Water-based activities are permitted at day camps at up to 50% facility capacity, with group sizes limited to 15 participants.

Retail, service counters, offices, personal care services, manufacturing and other industries allowed to reopen in Phase 3 will continue to operate at current capacity. To make it easier for business owners to protect the health and safety of their employees and customers, DCEO has released a new set of industry-specific downloadable materials for Phase 4.

Keep in mind: Face covering and social distancing requirements will remain in effect.

Thanks to the efforts of so many Illinoisans, our state has made tremendous progress in the fight against COVID-19. But we can’t relax just yet—it’s vital that we continue to social distance, wash our hands and wear masks to prevent a resurgence in cases.

For information on the status of COVID-19 in Illinois, visit—the site is updated continually to ensure you have access to the latest and most accurate statistics.

Category: News

The General Assembly passed legislation to secure your right to vote safely in the 2020 General Election, and Gov. JB Pritzker signed it into law last week. Here are some changes you can expect to see this fall:

Election Day 2020 will be a state holiday.

To give Illinoisans a safe, central place to vote, schools will be used as polling places. Making Election Day a state holiday gives election authorities the time to clean these areas thoroughly to protect voters and students from the spread of COVID-19. It also means people will be able to vote whenever it is most convenient for them—no more long lines during the “rush hours” that occur when Election Day is a typical workday.

With schools closed, election authorities will also be able to recruit more high school students to serve as election judges. This will allow older adults—who frequently donate their time to serve as judges, but may be more vulnerable to COVID-19—to stay home and protect their health on Election Day.

If you’ve voted in the last two years, you will receive a vote by mail application automatically.

Voting by mail is a safe, secure alternative to in-person voting. Any person who has voted in the 2018, 2019 or 2020 elections—as well as anyone who registered to vote after the 2020 primary election—will receive an application for a ballot in their mailbox in early August. Fill out the application and mail it back to receive a ballot prior to the election, which you can use to vote from the comfort of your own home.

If you don’t receive an application in the mail, you can apply online.

Those who aren’t automatically sent an application can request a mail ballot on the State Board of Elections’ website. Applications are now open.

If you want to vote in person, the process will be safer.

To allow more Illinoisans to avoid waiting in long lines on Election Day, hours will be extended at all permanent early voting sites: The polls will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Election authorities are also permitted to establish curbside voting procedures for both early voting and on Election Day to allow citizens to cast their votes while maintaining safe social distance.

Category: News

Lightford062420CHICAGO – To better inform policymakers on the root causes of poverty and economic insecurity, Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) was appointed to the Commission on Poverty Elimination and Economic Security.

“I believe we have come to the precipice of a moment that can make the changes necessary to put us on track to eliminate poverty across Illinois,” Lightford said. “That effort starts with getting to the root causes of poverty, a major one being systemic racism, and no longer being shy about the way we approach them.”

The commission will consist of four members of the General Assembly, a member of the judicial branch and 20 members of the public, including people who have experienced deep poverty and advocates for youth, veterans, mental health, education equity, those experiencing homelessness, those differently abled and others.

“I look forward to the important work we’ll be doing through this commission, and even more to engaging my colleagues in a conversation that can create generational change, eliminate poverty and economic disparities across our state,” Lightford said.

The commission is tasked with educating policymakers on the impact poverty has on other measures of economic stability and economic outcomes, including educational attainment, rates of incarceration, lifetime earnings, access to health care, health care outcomes, and access to housing. The Department of Human Services will provide support for the commission to complete its work to produce a strategic plan that addresses poverty and economic insecurity in Illinois by November 30, 2021.



Category: News

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