QUINCY (WGEM) — Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced Friday that all Illinois public schools would close from March 17 to March 30.
Building on state guidance issued Thursday to promote social distancing and minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, Governor JB Pritzker announced that the state of Illinois will close all schools from March 17 through March 30 and implement additional economic measures to reduce the burden on Illinois families. As of now, day care centers will remain open and will follow strict health and safety guidance.
“All of these choices have cascading effects for citizens and vulnerable populations when it comes to food access, safety, childcare, and social services," said Governor JB Pritzker. “We’ve seen what happens in places that didn’t move with urgency. I ask all of you not to hesitate to do the right thing for your family, your friends, and your community. One small step at a time, we will get through this together.”
Quincy Public Schools Superintendent Roy Webb informed staff of the decision just ahead of the Governor's announcement on Friday.
Webb's email read, "the Governor just closed all schools in the state from March 17 to March 30."
Webb also stated they would cancel all practices, events, and games starting on March 17.
Webb told staff that the district has plans for possible school lunches and supplemental education if school is canceled beyond March 30.
Following extensive state-level analysis of coronavirus spread in various countries and the social distancing measures that were put in place, the State is taking the precautionary measure of closing all K-12 schools in the state of Illinois from March 17 through March 30. Schools with a spring break that falls outside of this window should move their spring break to within this timeframe.
The Pritzker administration said it is working to ensure critical support functions remain available to students across the state – including their access to food, child care and safe environments.
Gov. Pritzker has assured school administrators that the state will issue no penalties as a result of this closure. To provide support to school districts across the state, the Illinois State Board of Education will be fully staffed over the coming weekend and during the closure period to work through individualized issues and challenges in each district. An executive order to provide school districts flexibility during this period is forthcoming.
On Thursday, the Illinois State Board of Education was granted a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to continue providing meals to students in non-group settings. Students receiving free and reduce priced breakfasts and lunches will be able to receive grab-and-go meals each day, with some districts having the ability to deliver and others offering parent pick up.
The Department of Children and Family Services is working closely with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Illinois Department of Public Health to ensure emergency and preparedness plans are in place to keep youth in care and staff safe. All DCFS group homes will remain open and take extra safety precautions.
The Governor has also announced new economic measures to reduce the burden on Illinois families.
Gov. Pritzker and Attorney General Raoul have urged the Illinois Commerce Commission to immediately institute a moratorium on shutoffs for all utility companies across Illinois – including energy, telecommunications and water – until the state disaster proclamation has been lifted. The administration is also requesting changes to payment and collection policies to ensure Illinoisans aren’t saddled with utility debt as a result of COVID-19.
The Governor is contacting the leaders of Illinois’ utility companies and urging them to maintain services for all Illinoisans, regardless of their ability to pay, during this public health crisis.
The Pritzker administration said it is working directly with the eight major food banks across Illinois to expand services. The administration is reaching out to food manufacturers to ensure food banks are prioritized and can provide our vulnerable residents the food they need.
Earlier this week, the administration filed emergency rules granting workers who are unemployed due to COVID-19 access to unemployment benefits. The rules provide relief to people who may be restricted in the type of work they can perform due to the outbreak.
Earlier Friday, The Diocese of Springfield in Ilinois announced that all Catholic schools would be closed during the week of March 16.