ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford Public Schools announced Friday that students will not be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to attend classes next year.
Superintendent Ehren Jarrett said families should consider vaccinating their students 12 and older.
Currently, masks and social distancing are still required for students, staff and visitors, but the school board says it will update those requirements pending guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the governor’s office.
Students are expected to return to in-person classrooms for the 2021-2022 school year.
“In-person instruction and having a face-to-face, direct connection with our students is what’s best for academic progress and social emotional support. All families, from Early Childhood through high school, should plan for in-person instruction when school starts in September,” Jarrett said.
Remote learning will still be an option for those with compromised immune systems.
According to the Winnebago County Health Department, “Transmission of COVID-19 in the in-person school environment has been primarily associated with activities outside of the school,” concluding that only 2% of students have been associated with an outbreak.
The health department added that the in-person environment has a positive effect on academic achievement and social/emotional development of students.
Schools will make an exception for remote learning if a student or household member has a medical condition which poses a significant risk from COVID-19 or other infections. In those cases, documentation must be provided to the school nurse.
Safety protocols at each school, including social distancing, vaccinations, and sanitizing will be utilized as appropriate, the health department said.