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Holmes outlines steps for schools to resume in-person learning

holmes 030420AURORA — As Illinois’ number of COVID-19 cases keeps dropping, health and education officials have given the go-ahead to reopen schools this fall with a thorough set of guidelines, according to Assistant Senate Majority Leader Linda Holmes (D-Aurora).

“We saw so much success by teachers, parents and students adapting to learning at home during a period none of us expected,” Holmes said. “Things will still be different so that learning can be resumed safely, but it will be back to classrooms.”

The Illinois State Board of Education and Illinois Department of Public Health outlined guidelines for K-12 schools and higher education institutions to safely resume in-person learning this fall, while ensuring the health and safety of students and staff is prioritized. The groups worked with educators, superintendents, social workers, nurses and other stakeholders to create the 60-page guidance.

The guidelines for Phase 4 will, among other things:

  • Require use of appropriate personal protective equipment, including face coverings;
  • Prohibit more than 50 individuals from gathering in one space;
  • Require social distancing be observed, as much as possible;
  • Require schools conduct symptom screenings and temperature checks or require that individuals self-certify that they are free of symptoms before entering school buildings; and
  • Require an increase in school-wide cleaning and disinfection.

All public and nonpublic schools in Illinois serving K-12 students must follow these guidelines.

“Students and teachers can maintain health and safety guidelines back in their familiar classrooms and surroundings. It is a great step forward,” Holmes said.

Holmes encourages barbershops and salons to apply for BIG grants

salon 061820AURORA — Assistant Majority Leader Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) is encouraging salon and barbershop owners who suffered during the COVID-19 Stay at Home Order to apply for Business Interruption Grants through the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

“Salons and barbershops were some of the hardest hit businesses during the Stay at Home Order,” Holmes said. “They couldn’t provide their services online or to-go. They simply had to shut down entirely. I encourage all eligible businesses to apply if they had significant losses during this period.”

 

Holmes lauds funding for key COVID-19 recovery needs in budget signed into law today

holmes chair2 022520SPRINGFIELD — Assistant Majority Leader Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) looks forward to the relief the new budget legislation will bring following its signing by the governor this morning.

“This was unlike any other budget process given the unprecedented essentials funding required for the many services needed to respond and recover from COVID-19’s after effects,” Holmes said. “Education, human services, job recovery, infrastructure and public safety all needed immediate attention to get our people and institutions back on their feet and the economy back on track, and we pulled this together in a bipartisan manner.”

Holmes led the Senate Working Group on unemployment, which was a cooperative effort including input from labor and business groups.

“We’ve provided the Department of Employment Security with nearly $60 million in additional funding to help address the challenges with the unemployment system,” Holmes said. “I’ve heard from dozens of constituents who’ve had problems registering and receiving their benefits; this will help the agency increase the number of workers to help aid residents in navigating the unemployment system and process claims faster.”

Holmes also lauded the budget for ensuring the state will make its full pension payment commitment as planned. It is a cornerstone of ongoing efforts to address our underfunded pension systems, without taking away from COVID-19 recovery needs.

“People in the 42nd District need consistency and peace of mind right now, and the COVID-19 recovery budget items will provide help for those needing it.”

Governor signs Holmes’ major labor and unemployment reforms into law

holmes 031220SPRINGFIELD — Assistant Majority Leader Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) is encouraged that Gov. JB Pritzker signed House Bill 2455 this afternoon, allowing important changes to labor and unemployment laws to take immediate effect as workers continue to be shaken by COVID-19’s  toll on jobs and the economy.

Holmes sponsored the measure passed by the General Assembly during the shortened Special Session at the Capitol in May. It will ensure first responders and essential workers have recourse if they contract COVID-19 at work and their employers failed to implement proper health and safety guidelines and requires employers to take this seriously.

“This is for our essential workers who may not have sick time benefits but have had COVID-19 related to their jobs, in some cases due to lack of care taken by employers,” Holmes said. “We’ve moved quickly to address this problem and I’m pleased we did it cooperatively with business and labor involved in the solutions.”

HB2455 also extends unemployment benefits and waives the waiting times associated with receiving benefits.

“Millions are now unemployed through no fault of their own, and we must provide economic relief,” Holmes said. “I know the unemployment process has been frustrating for many -- including those who have unresolved issues with penalty weeks. Yet we’ve seen greater and greater capacity for filing for unemployment and significant state investment in improving these services.”

This legislation also provides workers’ compensation benefits for Chicago first responders’ families in the event their loved one dies from COVID-19 in the line of duty, a benefit others in the state already have.

Sen. Linda Holmes

Assistant Majority Leader Linda Holmes

Assistant Majority Leader
42nd District

Years served: 2007 - Present

Committee assignments: Agriculture (Vice-Chairperson); Commerce and Economic Development (Chairperson); Executive; Labor; Local Government (Vice-Chairperson); Telecommunications & InfoTechnology.

Biography: Elected to the Senate in 2006; born March 16, 1959, in Chicago; received a bachelor's degree from the National College of Education (now National-Lewis University); First woman president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry; Full-time state legislator.

Associated Representatives:
Barbara Hernandez
Stephanie A. Kifowit