Remote learning for Illinois public school students will begin March 31, according to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), and will continue until students and teachers are told they can return to the classroom.
The announcement was made in a press release issued Friday evening, March 27. The recommendation came after ISBE convened an advisory group of teachers, students, paraprofessionals, related service personnel, principals and district and regional superintendents to make recommendations to support educators, students and families during Remote Learning Days.
Recommendations from the advisory group provide "overarching best practices for instruction, grading, communication, social emotional needs, content selection and delivery, family engagement, and other important concerns, as well as specific guidance for different grade bands, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities," the statement read.
During Remote Learning Days, the statement continued, schools can either put into place an e-learning plan, or a remote learning day plan that provides students with instruction and access to educators through whatever means possible.
Districts are allowed up to five Remote Learning Planning Days at any time after March 30, to work on plans for Remote Learning Days in partnership with collective bargaining units.
The statement also confirmed that Remote Learning Days, Remote Learning Planning Days, and Act of God Days count as actual student attendance days that count toward the minimum length of the school year, and do not need to be made up.
Remote Learning Recommendations "strongly encourage" that a district's grading policies "embrace the principle of 'no educational harm to any child' and that school districts adopt grading models of pass or incomplete."
Recommendations also state that grading should focus on continuing learning and "prioritize the connectedness and care for students and staff," the statement continued.
"All students should have the opportunity to redo, make up, or try again to complete, show progress, or attempt to complete work assigned prior to the remote learning period in that time frame," the statement read. "A focus on keeping children emotionally and physically safe, fed, and engaged in learning should be our first priority during this unprecedented time."
“I am deeply grateful to the 63 members of the Remote Learning Advisory Group for giving their time and their expertise to help ISBE and schools across the state navigate a new way of teaching, learning, and caring for our students,” State Superintendent Dr. Carmen I. Ayala said.
“We continue to be awed by the phenomenal creativity, resilience, empathy, and problem-solving prowess of Illinois’ educators, administrators, and students. The stories we see every day on social media, in the news, and in our email show us just how focused our educators are on supporting our children in this time of crisis.”
The state has also suspended state assessments for the Spring 2020 semester, including: The Constitution exam, the Illinois Assessment of Readiness, Illinois Science Assessment, SAT, and Dynamic Learning Maps-Alternate Assessment.
As the SAT is necessary for many students looking to attend college, ISBE is working with the College Board to develop a plan for high school juniors to take the exam in the fall.