Updated Illinois Stay at Home Order – What This Means for Illinois Schools

May 1, 2020

by Elizabeth Kelly

On April 30, 2020, Governor Pritzker issued Executive Order 2020-32, which formally extended Illinois’ Stay-at-Home Order through May 30, 2020. Additionally, he issued Executive Order 2020-33, which extended previous executive order directives, such as the relaxation of the Open Meetings Act in-person attendance rules, teacher licensure renewal timelines, and the suspension of in-person school instruction.

Below is an outline of some key provisions of the new Stay-at-Home Order that are relevant to School Districts in Illinois.

Social Distancing Requirements that Must Be Maintained at All Times:

  • Maintain at least six feet of social distancing from other individuals;
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer;
  • Cover coughs or sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands);
  • Regularly clean high-touch surfaces; and
  • Avoid shaking hands.

Public Health Requirements for All People in Public Places or When Working:

  • All individuals over two years old and medically able to tolerate wearing a face-covering must do so when they are in a public place and unable to maintain six feet of social distance from others.
  • Face-coverings are required to be worn in public indoor places, such as stores.

Rules for All Employers:

  • Employers must provide employees face-coverings if employees cannot maintain at least six feet of social distance at all times while on the job.
  • If employees can work remotely, employers are encouraged to have employees work from home.
  • The Illinois Department of Public Health (IPDH) and Office of the Illinois Attorney General workplace safety guidelines must be posted at the worksite. A link to this guidance can be found here.

Rules for Staying Home / Social Distancing Requirements:

  • Public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household or living unit are prohibited, unless specifically permitted under the Order.
    • This prohibition applies to gatherings such as graduation ceremonies.
  • Gatherings of 10 or more people are prohibited, unless specifically exempted under the Order.
    • This limits gatherings for Essential Activities, Essential Governmental Functions, or to operate Essential Businesses and Operations to 10 or fewer people, consistent with CDC guidelines.

Rules for Educational Institutions Operating as Essential Businesses:

  • School facilities can remain open for the limited purposes of:
    • Facilitating distance learning;
    • Performing critical research; or
    • Performing essential functions.
  • Schools are allowed to establish procedures to allow students to return to the school facility to collect personal belongings, provided Social Distancing Requirements are met.
    • Taken with the limits on approved gatherings of 10 people or less, schools should look to implement procedures that limit the number of students collecting their belongings to 10 people or less at any given time.
    • See ISBE guidance on permitting staff and students to return to school buildings to collect personal items.

Measures Schools Should Take to Comply with the Social Distancing Requirement:

  1. Designate six-foot distances.   Designate with signage, tape, or other means six-foot spacing for employees to maintain appropriate distance.
  2. Hand sanitizer and sanitizing products. Provide hand sanitizer and sanitizing products readily available for employees.
  3. Face Coverings and PPE.   Provide employees with appropriate face coverings and require that employees wear face coverings if maintaining six feet of social distance is not possible.
    • When the work circumstances require, providing employees with other PPE.

Suspension of In-Person Attendance at Public Meetings – including School Board Meetings (Per Exec. Order 2020-33)

  • The requirement that board members be physically present at the meeting site remains suspended through May 29, 2020.
  • Public bodies – including school boards – are still encouraged to postpone meeting unless they are necessary.
  • When a meeting is necessary, public bodies are encouraged to provide video, audio, and/or telephonic access to meetings to ensure members of the public may monitor the meeting.
  • Public bodies are required to keep the public fully apprised of meeting format changes and options for participating and/or viewing the public meeting.

Elizabeth Kelly practices primarily in the areas of school law and finance, and labor and employment. She represents school districts throughout Illinois in matters concerning student rights and special education, as well as school finance, board policy and governance, compliance with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act and the Illinois Open Meetings Act, and employment and personnel issues. As the daughter of public educators and a superintendent of schools, Elizabeth has a unique insight into the real-world impact and implications that go with the decision-making responsibilities that fall on public school administrators and Boards of Education. Prior to joining the firm, Elizabeth practiced tax law at a large firm in Chicago.

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.