Days after federal health officials announced changes to recommended guidance on COVID-19 isolation and quarantine, the Illinois State Board of Education announced Friday that guidance won’t apply to Illinois schools.
In a statement posted to on Twitter shortly after 4 p.m. Friday, the state board announced that schools should continue to follow the current COVID-19 guidance outlined by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The state health department announced this week it also would fall in line with the new COVID-19 isolation guidance from the CDC, but the state board of education said that only applies to the general public.
“IDPH announced yesterday that schools should continue to follow the current IDPH COVID-19 School Guidance, including for isolation & quarantine times,” ISBE said in a Twitter statement. “IDPH has adopted the CDC recommendation to reduce the number of days for isolation and quarantine for the general public.”
On Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance related to isolation protocols amid viral exposure and infection: Namely that if someone tested positive for the coronavirus and was asymptomatic, or didn’t experience any symptoms, they could shorten their time in quarantine from 10 to five days. The CDC asks that for the remaining five days, those who have tested positive without symptoms be vigilant about proper mask-wearing while out and about.
Current Illinois state guidance for all schools states that if a student or employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, a probable case or exhibiting symptoms, they must isolate for 10 days from onset of symptoms or positive test. Close contacts, meaning those who’ve been exposed, must also isolate as part of the state’s mandatory exclusion guidance issued by the state health department. If someone is unvaccinated, they could be excluded for up to 14 days according to further guidance from local health departments.
The state also has guidance for test-to-stay protocols in Illinois schools, meaning a person who’s been exposed could show up to school and get tested at the first, third, fifth and seventh days after the exposure. If they test negative each time, they will be allowed to continue in the school. Test-to-stay options are only offered if other criteria outlined by local health departments is met, according to the IDPH, including that proper masking and social distancing was followed in each individual case.
Additional IDPH guidance includes an indoor mask mandate, as well as a requirement that all school employees be fully vaccinated or submit to at least once per weekly COVID-19 testing.
The state board of education said it expects the CDC to issue updated guidance for isolation and quarantine in school settings shortly.
“We understand that you are eager for this guidance, and we share your sense of urgency,” ISBE’s statement reads. “At this time, please continue to follow the guidance currently in place. ISBE is working with IDPH to update the School Guidance as soon as we know more.”