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Checklist for End of COVID Health Emergency

Education K-12 Education

Governor Pritzker’s disaster proclamation, declaring a public health emergency due to COVID-19, ends today, May 11, 2023. As a result, COVID-leave rights, and other rights contingent upon the Governor’s public health emergency declaration, will also end. Identified below are some of the key considerations for schools and school districts in light of this development:  

  • COVID-Leave: Employees at school districts and charter schools will no longer be entitled to the paid leave rights set forth under Section of 10-20.83 and 34-18.78 of the School Code that are only afforded to employees during a time that the Governor has declared a disaster due to a public health emergency.  Employees should still be given such leave days or reimbursement for such days taken prior to May 11. 
  • District/School Specific COVID-19 related policies or MOUs: Districts or schools may have adopted policies, procedures or entered into MOUs related to COVID-19, including those addressing issues related to vaccinations, Shield Testing, notifications of COVID-19 positive diagnosis, absences due to COVID-19, and other issues raised in the Governor’s various executive orders related to COVID-19. These should be reviewed. If they are contingent upon the Governor having declared a disaster due to a public health emergency, those may automatically cease to be in effect. If they are not contingent on there being a disaster declaration, Districts may want to review those and, where applicable, meet with collective bargaining representatives, to determine whether there is any continued necessity for those to continue.  
  • Open Meetings Act: Fully virtual meetings are no longer permitted unless the Governor were to issue another disaster declaration. Meetings must now be in-person. If a quorum of public body members are physically present for a meeting, an absent member may participate remotely if absent for a statutorily recognized reason (illness, work or public body-related, or family emergency) subject to the public body’s policy. 
  • Additional School Code Provisions Affected:  
    • Remote Learning Days: Section 10-30 of the School Code, and Section 34-18.66 of the School Code, permitting Remote Learning Days and blended remote learning days, will no longer apply. 
    • Minimum Clock hour requirements – Section 10-19.059 (j-5) of the School Code that is contingent on there being a disaster declaration will no longer apply. 
    • School Report Cards – ISBE’s deadline to prepare reports cards is no longer extended to December 31, but will go back to October 31. 
    • Substitute Teachers – Districts will no longer be permitted to hire individuals holding a short-term substitute teaching license for teacher absences lasting six or more days.  
    • Education Licensure Requirements – Certain exceptions for obtaining educator licenses under Section 21B-110 will no longer apply.  
    • Teacher Dismissal Hearings under 24-12 and 34-85: The provisions under Section 24-12 permitting remote hearings and permitting hearing officers to voluntarily withdraw and for another hearing officer to be selected or appointed will no longer apply. 
    • Teacher Remediation Plans: Waiver of remediation plan timelines when in-person instruction is suspended will no longer be permissible. 
    • Teacher and Principal Evaluation Ratings: Certain provisions in Sections 24A-5, 24A-15, 34-85c and 24-11 will no longer apply, including the provisions providing for default to excellent rating in certain situations, and written agreements for an alternative performance rating for non-tenured teachers. 
    • Physical Fitness Assessments: This provision in section 27-6.5 of School Code will no longer apply. 
    • Withholding reports cards for failure to comply with dental and eye exam health requirements – Districts’ prohibition from withholding report cards during a school year when the Governor has declared a disaster will cease to apply. 
    • Required High School Courses – ISBE was permitted to adopt rules to apply during disaster declaration. 

In the spirit of the webinars we have regularly hosted over the last three years on COVID-19, we invite you to join Franczek Attorneys Dana Fattore Crumley, Jennifer Smith, Nicki Bazer and Amy Dickerson on May 18, 2023 at noon for a discussion on the impact of the end of the public health emergency, including the issues identified above. Register here.

 As always, please contact us with any questions.