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*** UPDATED x1 *** Always read the bill, including the amendments

Thursday, May 13, 2021

* Tribune editorial

A bill moving through the Illinois House and Senate in Springfield has private schools worried. It establishes state-mandated “metrics” that schools must meet before they can offer in-person learning. The concern: The legislation could make it harder for schools to reopen this fall.

Um, no.

The mandated “metrics” were in the introduced version

In-person instruction at schools. The Department shall establish metrics for school districts and public institutions of higher education to use during the public health emergency in determining if the district or institution may safely conduct in-person instruction or if the district or institution must implement remote learning or blended remote learning to keep students and staff safe. .

That language caused an uproar last month.

* So the original bill was amended to delete the offending “metrics” language and to change the bill’s focus

The Department shall establish requirements by rule for providing in-person instruction at nonpublic schools and public schools that include, but are not limited to, personal protective equipment, cleaning and hygiene, social distancing, occupancy limits, symptom screening, and on-site isolation protocols and shall disseminate information about those requirements to nonpublic schools and public schools with the assistance of the Illinois State Board of Education. The authority to enforce the rules adopted pursuant to this Section lies with the Department and local departments of public health. Upon receipt of a complaint that a school cannot or is not complying with the Department’s rules under this Section, the Department or local public health department shall investigate the complaint within 45 days after receiving the complaint. If upon investigation, a school is found to be in violation of the rules adopted under this Section, the Department has the authority to take the appropriate action necessary to promote the health or protect the safety of students, staff, and the public, including, but not limited to, closure of a classroom, gym, library, lunch room, or any other school space until such time that the Department determines that the violation or violations have been remedied. Nothing in this Section limits the authority or requirements of the Department or local public health departments. All complaints and related documents shall be maintained and are subject to applicable disclosure requirements under the Freedom of Information Act. […]

In order to provide in-person instruction, nonpublic schools and public schools must follow the requirements adopted by rule by the Department of Public Health under Section 2310-705 of the Department of Public Health Powers and Duties Law of the Civil Administrative Code.

In other words, the proposal went from proactive to reactive and basically just codifies what has been happening in Illinois for close to a year. Also, notice that, despite the editorial, local public health departments are involved.

* Back to the editorial

Many private schools, including most in the Archdiocese of Chicago and other faith-based schools across the state, worked with local health officials last summer and fall to figure out how to safely offer in-person learning when many public school buildings remained closed due to COVID-19. […]

But it also removes local control from all school districts which have shown, particularly during the pandemic, that a one-size-fits-all approach would be the wrong one. Each district, each community, had the ability to shape how and when their students returned to school. This would change that.

While each district and private school has been allowed to set their own specific rules, they all had to follow basic guidelines set forth by the state. There was even a lawsuit over this

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health have won an injunction against three school districts who said they did not need to mandate face masks for in-person learning this year.

The Archdiocese of Chicago’s rules were primarily based on state rules with additional guidance from the city’s public health department.

The editorial board needs to get off Facebook.

*** UPDATE *** The governor was asked about the bill today and he said work is still being done on the legislation. Again, you’d think the largest newspaper in the state would pick up a phone before getting so far over its skis on something like this.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

15 Comments
  1. - Lt Guv - Thursday, May 13, 21 @ 11:44 am:

    ==The editorial board needs to get off Facebook.==

    Really, the Tribune Editorial Board needs to dissolve itself. Facebook is only a symptom for them.


  2. - 47th Ward - Thursday, May 13, 21 @ 11:45 am:

    As a parent of two Catholic school students, I agree that this codifies what we experience this past school year. I think what some of the opposition is involves the idea that a single complaint can result in a gym being closed, or a classroom being closed and shifting students to remote learning. Yes, state and local health departments already have this power, but it seems ripe for some abuse to me.

    Catholic schools in Chicago operated successfully in-person, in glaring and stark contrast to public schools, which didn’t even try. Some of the push for this bill is coming from CTU, which obviously triggered the Tribune, but also, I don’t want CTU members making complaints about what goes on in my kids school in an effort to force us back to remote learning.


  3. - Zach Wichmann - Thursday, May 13, 21 @ 11:51 am:

    47th Ward is exactly right. Also, as amended, this bill would give IDPH this power even absent a declaration of emergency, which is what we have been operating under the past year. Its a big expansion of government power, ripe for abuse.


  4. - Candy Dogood - Thursday, May 13, 21 @ 11:51 am:

    ===The Department shall establish metrics for school districts and public institutions of higher education to use during the public health emergency in determining if the district or institution may safely conduct in-person instruction===

    Up until 2020 I would have thought that this would have been an unnecessary thing for the state to legislate. In an ideal world it would still be unnecessary so I can only hope the next time a deadly pandemic comes around that we’re all a little more reasonable.


  5. - Rich Miller - Thursday, May 13, 21 @ 11:53 am:

    === but it seems ripe for some abuse to me===

    Perhaps, but it’s essentially the current status quo. People file complaints, public health checks into them. No real difference


  6. - TNR - Thursday, May 13, 21 @ 11:58 am:

    I don’t get it. Why is the bill is necessary? With a few exceptions, we’ve watched the courts uphold the Governor’s wide latitude under the public health act during a pandemic. The state doesn’t need this bill to become law in order to shut down a private school if it’s ground zero for virus spread.


  7. - Annonin' - Thursday, May 13, 21 @ 12:01 pm:

    So now your actually expect the Tribbies to examine the slop some big wig wants them to publish? The Bruce Dold era ended about a decade ago


  8. - JB13 - Thursday, May 13, 21 @ 12:12 pm:

    - Why is the bill necessary? –

    Why, indeed? My favorite kinds of legislation are those pushed by powerful interest groups, who have massive influence in the state capital, that supposedly change absolutely nothing.


  9. - Rich Miller - Thursday, May 13, 21 @ 12:13 pm:

    === Why is the bill is necessary?===

    lol

    Are you new to Illinois?


  10. - Bob Meter - Thursday, May 13, 21 @ 12:26 pm:

    Thanks Rich for being an informed voice of reason.


  11. - JoanP - Thursday, May 13, 21 @ 1:02 pm:

    = you’d think the largest newspaper in the state would pick up a phone =

    But then they might find out something that contradicts their rhetoric.


  12. - Cheryl44 - Thursday, May 13, 21 @ 1:20 pm:

    We don’t even force parochial schools to make parents have their children vaccinated for normal stuff. How is this going to work?


  13. - 47th Ward - Thursday, May 13, 21 @ 1:40 pm:

    You sure about that Cheryl? I had to show proof of MMR vaccines when my kids enrolled. Not sure if ISBE forces the Archdiocesan schools to do this or not, but my school required (with exceptions for medical conditions documented by physicians).


  14. - Perplexed - Thursday, May 13, 21 @ 2:26 pm:

    Archdiocesan schools require all standard vaccinations and enforce that rigorously.

    As for the bill, any time the teachers unions come meddling in nonpublic schools, it’s invariably to benefit the unions. Long history.

    So no wonder some people want to raise the visibility of this legislation. The teachers unions and their captive legislators have earned the distrust.


  15. - Morty - Thursday, May 13, 21 @ 2:50 pm:

    Shocked that the Edit Board would get things factually wrong


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