SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - The Illinois State Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution to further support in-person learning Tuesday. The vote took place during a special meeting, however many people probably didn't know it was happening.
Board members decided to change a previous declaration in support of in-person learning. They hope this can help clarify some confusion for school districts defying Gov. JB Pritzker's mask mandate in schools.
ISBE says the change to their guidance won't impact most students this year. Superintendent Carmen Ayala said all schools must have in-person learning this year. Although, there are exceptions for situations where students cannot be in the building.
The board says schools should still have remote learning options for any students who contract COVID-19. Dr. Ayala said the same should apply for any students in isolation or quarantine due to the virus.
"Our goal is to further ensure continuity of learning for all students who are excluded from school as well as support their safe and speedy return to in-person learning," said Ayala.
Changes based on data and science
However, this is not an expansion of remote learning like schools had last year. Ayala said she understands the stressful and emotional situation students, parents, and educators are going through right now. But, she says every COVID-19 mitigation in schools came from extensive research backed by data and science.
ISBE staff told members that this was always an option and the resolution acts as a reminder for school administrators.
"The guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education for quite some time has been that we would like schools to be providing remote learning once students are excluded. This resolution helps to clarify that," said ISBE Legal Officer Jeremy Duffy. "It makes it clear for all school districts so that more students can have access to remote learning if they're being excluded based on these guidelines."
Members hope this can help school districts avoid lawsuits over students missing time from class due to contact tracing.
"This is in fact giving school districts clarity, but also flexibility to be doing what they need to do for purposes of keeping their schools safe and healthy," said Board Chair Darren Reisberg.
You can view the resolution here.