Gov. Pritzker suspends in-person learning at schools for the rest of academic year as COVID-19 cases increase

State News

CHICAGO (WMBD) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has officially announced the suspension of in-person learning at state schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year.

This means remote learning days will continue for all pre-k through 12th grade students.

The news comes as confirmed coronavirus cases continue to rise throughout the state. As of Friday, there are 27,575 confirmed cases. This is a 1,842-case increase since Thursday, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 1,134 deaths, a 61-person increase since Thursday. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years, in 92 counties in Illinois.

“I’ve said time and time again, our decisions must follow the science and the science says our students can’t go back to their normal routine this school year,” Pritzker. “Over the last month, Illinois’ schools have stepped up and faced the many challenges of COVID-19 with generosity, creativity, and a resolute focus on caring for students, parents and communities. I am confident that our schools will manage and expand the learning opportunities for all our children who will be working from home over the coming weeks.”

Pritzker’s stay-at-home order was set to expire on April 30, but the governor has hinted that he may extend it into May in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Pritzker has worked with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to identify and provide the flexibility that school districts need to address challenges from the pandemic. Illinois will receive approximately $569 million in federal funding for pre-k-12 schools, as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The funding can help equip students with technology and internet access to enhance remote learning, support teachers in developing their remote instruction skills, and assist schools in continuing to provide meals to children and communities.

Each public school district will receive CARES Act funding proportional to the number of low-income students they serve. ISBE also will receive CARES Act dollars as the state education agency.

ISBE has encouraged each school to determine a local method of taking attendance or checking student engagement. Daily virtual contact with students helps teachers understand when students may need additional support with assignments, meals, mental health, or other needs. ISBE also will release recommendations to schools to address learning loss and students’ social-emotional needs when students transition back to in-person instruction.

The governor also waived the edTPA and student teaching requirement for educator candidates who have completed all other requirements for licensure. These and other emergency changes to educator licensure will ensure that the COVID-19 does not impact local school district’s ability to hire qualified educators they need to support students.   

Pritzker and his administration amended graduation requirements for high school seniors, in recognition of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on their final semester. For example, current high school seniors may graduate without the normally required participation in consumer education and physical fitness assessment.

Twenty-seven states have already closed schools for the remainder of the school year, according to Education Week.

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