Gov. Pritzker announces extension of stay-at-home order, suspension of on-site learning in schools through April

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information provided by the Office of the Governor

CHICAGO, Ill. (March 31, 2020) – Building on the state’s efforts to flatten the curve of new COVID-19 cases in Illinois and following careful consultation with experts in Illinois and across the nation, Governor JB Pritzker announced that he will sign a 30-day extension of the state’s disaster proclamation on April 1. The disaster proclamation provides the governor the authority to sign additional executive orders, extending the stay-at-home order and suspending on-site learning in K-12 schools through the month of April.

“I have let the science guide our decisions, and I’ve relied upon the top medical experts, scientists, public health researchers, epidemiologists, mathematicians, and modelers from the greatest institutions in the world, whose guidance on infection rates and potential mortalities and protective measures is second to none,” said Governor Pritzker. “Illinois has one of the strongest public health systems in the nation, but even so, we aren’t immune to this virus’ ability to push our existing capacity beyond its limit. We need to maintain our course and keep working to flatten the curve.”

“This may not be the measure that we like, but it is the measure we all need to combat the deadly and growing COVID-19 crisis,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “The City of Chicago fully supports Governor Pritzker’s bold and necessary extension of the stay-at-home order, and stands ready to partner with the State and our health officials as we navigate the challenges that lie ahead in safeguarding our residents. We will get through this crisis together, and I want to thank all those who have been doing their part.”

The extension of the stay-at-home order will continue to permit a range of essential activities that will allow Illinoisans to meet their necessities while maintaining social distance from others. Grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, and other businesses providing services deemed essential will not close.

Helping the healthcare system

Staying at home and social distancing are the paramount strategies for minimizing the spread of COVID-19. Every Illinoisan plays a role in ensuring the healthcare system remains fully operational to treat patients in need of urgent care.

As of March 30, preliminary reports from hospitals statewide show that 41 percent of our adult ICU beds are “empty,” which means they are staffed and ready for immediate patient use, a two-percentage point decrease in a week. As far as ventilators, 68% are available statewide across Illinois, a four-percentage point drop in a week.

Statewide, about 35 percent of total ICU beds are occupied by COVID patients and about 24 percent of total ventilators are occupied by COVID patients. The state remains within its capacity, and is working every day to increase capacity to prepare for an anticipated surge in hospitalizations related to COVID-19 in the coming weeks.

Those experiencing symptoms should call a healthcare provider who will help arrange medical treatment without putting others at risk of exposure. The Illinois Department of Public Health has a statewide COVID-19 hotline and website to answer questions from the public or to report a suspected case: call 1-800-889-3931 or visit IDPH.illinois.gov.

Suspending on-site learning

Schools will transition from “Act of God Days” to “Remote Learning Days,” with days counting toward the school year. Each school district will create and implement a Remote Learning Day Plan to ensure all students—including students with disabilities and English Learners—receive instructional materials and can communicate with their teachers.

To prepare, the Illinois School Board of Education (ISBE) assembled an advisory group of more than 60 educators to make recommendations about instruction and grading during remote learning.

Schools can use up to five Remote Learning Planning Days at any time to prepare and refine their approaches to remote learning. Schools will design plans to minimize instructional loss and to provide opportunities for students’ academic, linguistic, and social-emotional growth.

Remote learning will look different for every district and every school. School districts will create plans based on their local resources and needs. Most districts will use a mix of digital and non-digital methods of engaging students in learning.

As a part of their recommendations, the advisory group recommended that grades be used only to increase students’ academic standing, with a recommendation that any grades that schools give during this time be used as an opportunity for feedback and not an instrument for compliance.

ISBE will continue to work in partnership with school districts to address any questions and to provide guidance to educators and administrators to protect and support Illinois students.

Illinois schools have worked diligently to meet the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic with generosity, creativity, and a focus on caring for students and communities. Schools across Illinois have shown remarkable agility in providing learning opportunities and meals throughout this crisis and will continue to work to address students’ needs.