IDPH, CCDPH and CDC Guidelines for Schools

  • This “decision-tree” guides schools in deciding how to respond to symptomatic Individuals in schools and day care programs. It offers “return to school” guidance as well as whether or not “close contacts” need to quarantine. The 1/4/2021 updates are highlighted in red, and this version includes CDC's consideration for shortened quarantines for asymptomatic cases.

    It's been 2 months since IDPH updated this document, and a lot of information has been added or updated. All new information is highlighted in red. If you haven't read this update in a while, I encourage you to do so now.
    IDPH has released a statement mostly agreeing with CDC's option of reducing quarantine for close contacts; however, they do not recommend that the quarantine end after day 7 with a negative RT-PCR test for children in daycares or K-12 schools. The fact that they specifically delineate children seems to imply that it is acceptable for adult staff.

    CDC's Options to Reduce Quarantine for Contacts of Persons with SARS-CoV-2 Infection Using Symptom Monitoring and Diagnostic Testing
    The CDC announced options to reduce the length of quarantine for close contacts. The long and the short of it is 1) Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring, and 2) When diagnostic testing resources are sufficient and available, then quarantine can end after Day 7 if a diagnostic specimen tests negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring. The specimen may be collected and tested within 48 hours before the time of planned quarantine discontinuation, but quarantine cannot be discontinued earlier than after Day 7.

    Cook County Dept. of Public Health's Clarification of Adaptive Pause Guidance for Schools, K12: (10/16/2020)
    This document from the Cook County Department of Public Health discusses how school districts should navigate the current COVID environment in relation to IDPH’s Adaptive Pause and Metrics: Interim School Guidance for Local Health Departments (08/17/20). CCDPH stresses the importance of considering "the specific local needs of each school district," and further states that, "A school with an outbreak can expect recommendations from CCDPH on opening and closing that will depend on the specific circumstances at a given school." 

    This guidance addresses what schools should do when someone on site tests positive, becomes sick on site, or is waiting for the results of a test. It also offers guidance regarding the procedures for addressing close contacts. A link to IDPH's When to Quarantine webpage is included, as is a link to IDPH's Discontinuation of Isolation webpage. NOTE: At the bottom of pg 4 is a section titled Procedures for Temporary Closure and Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection when a Confirmed or Possible Case of COVID-19 is Identified in a School/Day Care. There is a reference to the local health department (LHD) determining a school or day care closure. It is well worth the read.

    IDPH’s Adaptive Pause and Metrics: Interim School Guidance for Local Health Departments (08/17/2020)
    Even though it says it for “Local Health Departments” school districts officials will find this guidance and the links contained within very useful! This document lays out the metrics a school district could use and should consider when making the decision to choose or switch between all remote learning, hybrid/blended learning and in-person learning.

    Ventilation System Guidance During COVID-19
    This guidance provides quick, easy, practical opportunities for improving air quality and air flow for the purpose of minimizing the threat of COVID-19.

    Northern Illinois Return to School Metrics, drafted by the Northern Illinois Public Health Consortium, which Cook County Department of Public Health is a partner. (08/14/2020)
    This document is solely focused on return to school metrics as opposed to the one listed above, and the format that might be friendlier for the reader. The consortium consists of the health departments from the following cities, villages and counties: Chicago, Evanston, Skokie, Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, Will and Winnebago.

    IDPH's Criteria for Return to School for Non-COVID Diseases
    This chart lists the following for many common, and some not-so-common, "non-COVID" diseases: Mode of Transmission, Symptoms, Incubation Period, Period of Communicability, Criteria for Exclusion from School, Reporting Requirement, and Prevention & Control Measures. This chart will help a school district to know when a child with a non-COVID disease is ready to return to school.

    IDPH Interim COVID-19 Music Guidance for Schools
    This guidance addresses school band, choir, orchestra and general music programs including strategies that apply from elementary through high school. These recommendations are based on the latest results and science around current aerosol studies and represent best practices for preventing COVID-19 transmission among faculty, students, and staff engaged in music.

    IDPH’s Procedures for Students, Faculty and Support Staff who Test Positive (08/17/2020)
    Technically the document is titled
    Public Health Interim Guidance for Pre-K-12 Schools and Day Care Programs for Addressing COVID-19 and subtitled as we have listed it above, but the focus is what to do when students or staff test positive. Among the most important things to do when someone tests positive is to notify your local health department immediately. For Cook County the number for schools to report a positive case is (708) 836-8699. This document lists the information that the person reporting will be asked to share.

    Cook County Department of Public Health- School Health
    The Cook County Department of Public Health has put together this web page specifically for school districts. Upon opening it shares the phone number to the Communicable Disease Hotline, (708) 836-8699, which is who you should contact if your school/district has a confirmed COVID case. General questions should go to the COVID-19 hotline at (708) 633-3319 or you can email questions to

    Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) School Reopening FAQ (08/12/2020)
    The CCDPH posted this FAQ based upon the questions that suburban Cook County Districts submitted to them. Many of CCDPH’s answers refer the reader back to the
    ISBE Part 3 Transition Guidance FAQ or ISBE's/IDPH's Part 3 Transition Joint Guidance. Good news if you are a fan of consistency, not so good if the reader was hoping for more detail or depth of information.

    IDPH, CCDPH and CDC Helpful Websites: