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Pritzker issues COVID-19 school exclusion executive order

Gov. JB Pritzker says all schools must exclude students and school personnel with confirmed or...
Gov. JB Pritzker says all schools must exclude students and school personnel with confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases for 5-10 days following the onset of symptoms.(Mike Miletich)
Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 10:26 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Gov. JB Pritzker issued a new executive order Tuesday regarding exclusion from school for students and staff who test positive for COVID-19. The order also addresses protocols for those who come in close contact with people testing positive.

Exclusion, in this sense, means schools must prohibit people from the property and extracurricular events regardless of a local health department issuing a quarantine or isolation order. Although, exclusion is not considered quarantine or isolation from school.

Pritzker said schools must exclude students and school personnel with confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases for five to ten days following the onset of symptoms.

Those students or staff members can return to school after five days if they go 24 hours without a fever and see improvement with other COVID-19 symptoms. They would still be required to wear masks at all times around others for another five days.

Close contacts will only be excluded for five days after exposure under this executive order. Although, schools can allow asymptomatic close contacts to stay at school as long as they test negative twice within seven days.

The governor also explained that close contacts do not include students who come within 3-6 feet of someone with a confirmed or probable COVID case for 15 minutes while masked. Fully vaccinated students or staff who are 18 and older who received a booster shot within the past five months are also not considered close contacts.

Anyone who sat near someone with a confirmed or probable COVID-19 case for 15 minutes while masked on a bus is also not considered a close contact. Although, that provision only applies to people on school transportation with open windows or HEPA filters to allow for proper ventilation.

Students or staff who tested positive within the past 90 days before exposure are not considered close contacts, according to the executive order. Pritzker also says anyone who became exposed to someone with a confirmed or probable COVID-19 case while outside is not considered a close contact. Still, he notes local health departments can still decide to exclude someone based on higher-risk outdoor exposure.

Under the order, schools must also exclude any student or staff member with COVID-19 symptoms until they test negative. The alternative to testing is exclusion from school for 5-10 days.

“Students or school personnel who are symptomatic can return to school after 5 days only if they are fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication, if diarrhea or vomiting have ceased for 24 hours, and if other symptoms have improved,” Pritzker wrote.

Anyone with symptoms must also wear masks at all times for five days once they return to the school property. The governor noted that includes masking while near others when outside.

Pritzker says schools must make remote learning available for students excluded from classes. State agencies are also allowed to create emergency rules to help implement the new executive order.

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