Lewis sends letter to the Governor, urges swift guidance to schools for 2021-2022 school year

As the beginning of the school year rapidly approaches, State Rep. Seth Lewis and members of the House Republican Caucus are echoing calls from school leaders pleading for updated guidance from the state on fall school reopening. In a letter to Governor J.B. Pritzker, Lewis and his colleagues urge the administration to move quickly to allow schools time to implement new procedures to ensure a safe and healthy school year for students. 

“I’ve heard from a number of my local superintendents and school leaders about this issue. We’re all thankful that this school year will look so much different than the last, but with the huge strides made toward fighting the virus in the last year comes a very real and urgent need to update and clarify guidance to schools so that they can prepare,” said Lewis. 

With the new school year starting in 60 days or less for the vast majority of the state’s students, teachers and staff, time is of the essence for schools to make final plans and implement them for in person learning.

The full text of the letter follows:

Dear Governor Pritzker,

Over the last 14 months, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the daily lives of everyone in Illinois, but perhaps no disruption has been as great as the one to the lives of our state’s students. This fall will mark the start of the second new school year since the virus became a part of our reality and thankfully, because of huge strides that have been made within the last year to fight this deadly virus, it will look very different than the last. 

With these advancements, comes a very real and urgent need to update and clarify guidance to our schools so that they may adequately prepare for in-person instruction and a resumption of schedules and routines that are as close to normal as possible.

In an effort to achieve that goal, your administration recently received a letter from more than 350 school leaders throughout the state of Illinois about unresolved issues that must be addressed before these education professionals can effectively implement their planning for the 2021-2022 school year. Today, we write to echo their request for clarity and leadership on these issues.  

We understand that your administration, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois State Board of Education are currently awaiting updated guidance for schools from the CDC. As soon as this is available, it is imperative that the state moves quickly to finalize and issue updated guidance for Illinois schools.

Guidance and leadership from the state on reopening protocols would have a significant impact on planning various aspects of a return to school this fall. Implementing new procedures to ensure the safety of our students will take time, and with most Illinois schools opening their doors to returning students and staff in less than 60 days, time is of the essence. It’s critical that schools are given clear and consistent guidance as soon as possible in order to allow them to effectively plan for full reopening for the 2021-2022 school year.