A proposed bill could give the state more control over public and private schools when it comes to in-person learning during a public health emergency.
A third reading of House Bill 2789 is scheduled next week for the Illinois General Assembly. The proposed bill states that if the governor declares a disaster due to a public health emergency, then the Illinois Department of Public Health would be able to determine if schools can safely conduct in-person instruction or if they need to implement remote or blended learning.
“I personally feel extremely strong about students being in person, in front of their teachers so that the entire student can be educated well,” said Saints Peter and Paul Principal Tricia Weis.
How Could This Affect Private Schools?
Some schools like Sts. Peter and Paul have had in-person instruction five days a week since the start of the school year in August 2020, and little to no community spread of COVID-19. The school falls under the Diocese of Joliet, which allowed the school to create its own plan last year.
“Saints Peter and Paul and the Diocese of Joliet specifically has done a tremendous job of making sure that our students are safe and so I think it’s really important that it becomes and remains a local decision because we know our communities, we know our students, we know our families,” said Weis. “Every school whether it’s Catholic, private, or even public schools have a very different enrollment. Principals and teachers do what they do because they want kids to be safe. And so we, having the ability to make a local decision per our community, it makes sense that we would make good decisions as we’ve been so successful in the last year doing so to this point.”
Weis said the average classroom size at Sts. Peter and Paul during COVID-19 is 18 to 20 students.
HB 2789 also states rapid COVID-19 testing would be provided by the health department and employees would be granted paid sick leave if they get the illness causing a public health emergency.
The third reading of HB 2789 is scheduled for June 15.
Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.
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