Phase 4 COVID-19 Policies Affect Schools

According to Illinois COVID-19 Phase 4 policies, reopening is possible, but with stricter guidelines to keep others safe.

Hayley Breines, A&E Editor & News Editor

As of Jun. 26, Illinois has been in Phase 4 of COVID-19 restrictions. Because of a decline of COVID cases in the summer, restrictions were loosened in Phase 4 policy. This phase is characterized by schools and childcare facilities opening, restaurants opening with limited capacity, people gathering in groups up to 50 people, and widespread testing

With more being open, however, more guidelines for specific gathering points have been enforced including the wearing of masks and other personal safety equipment, limiting capacity, and encouraging social distancing. 

This phase has had a profound impact on schools, specifically, allowing them to open with extra precautions in place. At Grayslake Central, a fully remote plan was put into effect on Aug, 20. However, Central hopes to safely reopen under these Phase 4 restrictions. Currently, only staff and administrators are allowed into the building, under a rigorous checking and cleaning process.

“We have to make sure [the staff] is safe while they’re in school, so we had our maintenance crews that are cleaning day and night…We track who comes into our buildings via the use of a QR code. Every person that enters the building gets their temperatures checked, and then they self-certify through the QR code that they are healthy and safe to be in school, then they have to show our security guard that they got the ‘yes’ on the Google survey, and then they’re able to proceed into the building,” Director of Human Resources Danielle Carter explains. 

However, one of the biggest concerns with going back to school in person is the possible contraction of COVID. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, anyone who is COVID positive needs to quarantine themselves for 14 days, as long as they are asymptomatic. Similarly, Central has these precautions already planned out.

“Typically, what we’re seeing, is if someone does fall ill to COVID, they have to be home for 10 days after the first night of symptoms. What’s interesting is if you’ve been exposed to COVID, so someone in your home had COVID, you have to stay home for 14 days. Even though you may never develop COVID, symptoms take longer to develop and show up, and the Lake County Health Department has asked people to stay home in quarantine for two weeks,” Carter says.

Although these precautions may seem daunting, Central is still hoping to again safely reopen. Taking precautions, boosting morale, and keeping everyone safe with the Phase 4 restrictions are at the forefront of Central’s mission this fall.

“If we want to get back into school, we all need to do our part to stay safe and stay distanced…And then the sooner we can all do that, hopefully, the sooner we can get back in school together,” Carter says.