ISBE is Breaking Down Barriers—That is, Previous Physical Barrier Requirements
Aug 28, 2020
Amid the flurry of its recent updates, ISBE modified previously issued requirements regarding the division of large rooms such as cafeterias, libraries, and gyms.
As of the July 24th update to its FAQ document, ISBE allowed schools to partition larger spaces “with fire code approved floor to ceiling dividers to create additional rooms.” By doing so, schools could increase overall building capacity while abiding by the limitation of no more than fifty (50) people in one room. The same update also noted that indoor arenas and gymnasiums could not be partitioned to allow more than the fifty (50) participants or spectators at events
ISBE has since changed its requirements relative to the subdivision of large rooms. Specifically, as it currently stands, ISBE’s FAQs no longer require dividers to be “fire code approved.” Instead, the guidance only requires that rooms be divided with floor to ceiling dividers, that each subdivision of a room allows for ingress and egress, and that individuals in each room are capable of abiding by social distancing requirements. This change gives schools more flexibility to create smaller rooms within their larger spaces by removing the requirement to comply with segments of the fire code. Furthermore, the updated guidance removes the reference to limitations on the number of participants or spectators at events. Nevertheless, if a school plans to divide rooms it should consider any safety implications relative to the type of divider it will use and should remain aware of and abide by any federal, state, or local limitations on the size of gatherings. For assistance with interpreting and applying ISBE’s back-to-school guidance to your institution, please contact your Robbins Schwartz attorney