by Christine Self
In a press briefing on November 17, 2020, Governor Pritzker announced that Tier 3 Mitigations would be imposed statewide, starting November 20, 2020. Tier 3 Mitigations (linked here) substantially limit capacity for gatherings, close some in-person activities in indoor settings, and reduce capacity at indoor venues allowed to remain open, such as retail stores.
According to Tier 3 Mitigations, schools may continue to operate in compliance with guidance previously issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) (linked here). Sangamon County Judge Raylene Grischow issued a ruling this week in two consolidated cases that the Governor and state agencies have authority during a health crisis to require schools to follow the health guidance issued by state agencies. Schools and their officers and employees are not exempt from public health measures required under the Governor’s executive orders.
Local Boards of Education (Boards) have authority to make local determinations about in-person learning and may continue in-person, hybrid, or online models as they deem appropriate for their district. The Tier 3 Mitigations do not specifically address limitations on meetings of the Board. Governor Pritzker stipulated that, where the Phase 4 guidance (allowing gatherings up to 50 people) and the Tier 3 Mitigations “imply different standards,” the more restrictive Tier 3 Mitigations apply. Although the allowance and size of a gathering for a Board meeting is not specifically addressed, some Boards may interpret the other limitations in the Tier 3 Mitigations to imply a different standard than the Phase 4 guidance and return to, or continue, limited in-person meetings of the Board. The Tier 3 Mitigations appear to allow in-person meetings to occur, but including limitations on attendance and availability of remote participation may be in the best interest of the Board and community.
The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) released a statement (linked here) on November 17th, recognizing that Governor Pritzker’s implementation of Tier 3 Mitigations will temporarily pause the IHSA’s winter sports season, which was expected to begin this week. The IHSA Board of Directors will meet November 19th to discuss what sports will look like for the remainder of the year.
Tueth Keeney will continue to monitor developments related to the impact of COVID-19 and its impact on Illinois schools. Please contact us if you need assistance in interpreting or implementing the guidance.
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Illinois Education – Tueth Keeney is proud to be one of the state’s largest Illinois education law practices. The firm has one of the most experienced groups of attorneys in Central and Southern Illinois dedicated to serving public schools. We regularly represent nearly 150 public school districts, including many districts in Central and Southern Illinois. Our Firm is also regularly appointed by insurers of educational institutions to represent districts in complex or difficult cases involving school or civil rights laws.
Christine Self practices in the areas of education law and employment law. She has developed employment policies and advised public employers on labor matters and laws such as the Freedom of Information Act and the Illinois Open Meetings Act. She has experience with collective bargaining and disciplinary investigations into employee misconduct. As a former public school teacher, she is committed to assisting schools navigate the legal requirements of the education environment so school leaders and educators can provide the best educational opportunities for students.