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Illinois changes school code to help students, educators during COVID-19 pandemic

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SPRINGFIELD (WSIL) -- Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has signed SB1569 which aims to help improve remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"As we face the challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois is doing all it can to ensure our students receive the quality education they deserve," said Governor JB Pritzker. "Educators and administrators are doing what they do best, helping students continue to learn, providing meals, and looking out for the wellbeing of our children and families. This legislation will support that critical work and I applaud the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois General Assembly for coming together to support our schools and students across the state.”

The new law amends school codes to help give school districts new tools to help with remote learning and other necessary operations.

“The Illinois State Board of Education will release guidance in the coming days to support a safe transition back to in-person learning this fall,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “We emphasize in-person learning for all students to the greatest extent possible, while realizing that may not be feasible in all situations. Senate Bill 1569 creates a Blended Remote Learning Day option that gives schools additional flexibility as they develop plans for fall. Schools that plan to utilize Blended Remote Learning Days should consider equity and prioritize in-person learning for our students with greater needs.”

  • The legislation allows remote learning days and up to five remote learning planning days to be considered attendance days. 
  • The legislation also waives student assessment requirements if the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education.

The law also includes a a year-long licensure extension for those with teaching and education support professional licenses set to expire on June 30, 2020.

To support educator recruitment, modifications to the School Code include:

  • Makes licenses endorsed for visiting international educators valid for five years (currently three);
  • Allows career and technical education teachers to renew their licenses with a test of workplace proficiency, not solely educators whose license was issued July 1, 2015 or after; and
  • Updates language to conform with current licensure nomenclature.

HELP FOR PARENTS

  • The law expands the requirement that they receive copies of all written materials used during a meeting to determine a child’s eligibility for special education and related services.
  • The law ensures graduating high school seniors can graduate and earn their diploma. Additionally, ISBE may adopt rules to modify the requirements of the high school graduation requirements.
  • Regarding higher education, the law requires courses taken during the calendar year 2020 to be transferable for students receiving a passing grade and to fulfill the prerequisite requirements for advanced courses.

“With no time to prepare, the COVID-19 pandemic challenged educators to find new and innovative ways to meet the physical, social emotional, and academic needs of their students.  We are grateful that the General Assembly, working in collaboration with Governor Pritzker, swiftly passed Senate Bill 1569 to codify the flexibility and creativity educators required to provide essential services to our states young people,” said Dr. Jason Leahy, Executive Director of the Illinois Principals Association.

“We are very thankful that lawmakers saw fit to provide guidance in law that allows educators to concentrate on teaching and working to meet the needs of students in an emergency situation, to continue to work toward fixing the teacher shortage and to listen to the concerns of all involved when coming up with these solutions. It's a true testament to collaboration and to what we can do as a state when we pull together in the best interest of students," said Illinois Education Association President Kathi Griffin.

Jeff Weinrich

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