(The Center Square) – While President Donald Trump insists kids get back to school as early as next month, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he is relying on data and science.
Several weeks ago, the Illinois State Board of Education released a set of policies and rules for schools to follow this fall. The policies include temperature checks and face-covering requirements. Districts are also polling parents on other things such as blended learning options.
Earlier this week Trump said schools need to reopen this fall.
On Wednesday, Pritzker told a U.S. House committee it’s a complex challenge.
“We started with the ideas, you know, does the science and the data allow us to send kids back to school and if so in what manner,” Pritzker said. “That’s why I was so frustrated to see the president just sort of pronounce that ‘well everyone should open their schools,’ well, great, please, please provide us with the guidance that will help us do that.”
The CDC sent out guidance earlier this week and said those will be supplemented further. But White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany Thursday said those aren’t dictates.
“Many of these things that they’re recommending are not feasible which is why they used the words ‘not possible’ eighteen times and ‘not feasible’ nine times,” McEnany said. “We want our schools to reopen. It’s imperative for the health and wellbeing of the child."
Pritzker said concerns of spreading COVID-19 are paramount and that’s why masks and temperature checks will be mandatory for in-person instruction.
McEnany said the president’s insistence on schools reopening is based on other concerns outside of COVID-19.
“The data is clear. Sustained school closures hurt students who have fewer resources the most,” she said.
McEnany said health issues such as child abuse can go unnoticed when students aren’t in front of teachers. She also said the White House is looking at changing education funding to tie funding to children, not to a school district that remains closed.
Meanwhile, the Illinois High School Association released regulations for the next stage of high school athletics amid COVID-19. There can’t be any contact drills or physical contact between athletes and everyone must wear masks, but they’re still determining if that includes those outside while social distancing. There must also be a cap of 50 people for all indoor activities, including spectators.