Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday ordered the closure of the state’s schools for the rest of the 2019-20 academic year due to the COVID-19 public health crisis.
The mandated closure applies to all kindergarten through 12th grade schools, pre-k programs operated by public school districts and non-public schools.
“The science says our students can’t go back to their regular routines. Therefore I am suspending in person learning in schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year,” Pritzker said at his daily news conference in Chicago.
“I know that many have felt that this was inevitable, but trust me when I say this was not a decision that I made lightly. The importance of our schools and our in-person school days is not just a question of traditional and sentimentality as essential as those things are.
“The shutting of in-person classroom time also risks a drop in instructional time, an extended window when students can experience summer learning loss and an educational landscape in which some districts have more experience with remote learning than others.
“These challenges weighed heavily on me as we came to this decision. But my priority remains unchanged: how do we save the most lives during this very difficult time. That answer to that question leaves us with only one path forward.”
Pritzker had originally announced that schools would be closed through the end of March, which was later extended through April. Schools that were equipped to provide e-learning opportunities continued their lessons through that medium.
Illinois will join 27 states and 3 U.S. territories that have either ordered or recommended the same action as Pritzker’s mandate, Education Week reported.
Pritzker’s decision is made allowable under Illinois Board of Education guidelines through its “Act of God” days provision. Beyond days built into a school’s calendar for emergencies such as a “snow day,” schools are permitted to utilize Act of God days for a “condition beyond control of the school district that poses a hazardous threat to the health and safety of the students,” according to Champaign Unit 4 superintendent Susan Zola. Act of God days count toward the number of student attendance days and are not required to be made up.
The entirety of Pritzker’s news conference is available here.
At this point, there are no plans to alter the 2020-21 school calendar. Champaign Unit 4’s balanced calendar lists July 23 as the first day of attendance for the new school year. Aug. 20 is the first day for students on the regular calendar. Urbana District 116’s calendar begins Aug. 19 or 20, depending on the grade.
Want something to look forward to? Join in the CU Sing a Song Singalong on April 25.
So what can parents do to continue the education of their kids? We have more than 300 ideas for continued learning and educational entertainment. Try out these virtual field trips in Illinois.
Unit 4 and Urbana District 116 were among the school systems that have continued to operate in feeding kids who rely on food provided from schools. Here is info on those operations.
See how teachers are connecting with students virtually.