State board clarifies rules for school closures

Updated March 19, 2020

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has released updated guidance for schools on various issues related to mandatory school closures due to Covid-19/Coronavirus.

One area of concern has been advanced placement or AP tests. According to ISBE, the College Board, which administers AP programs, is finalizing options for students to be able to take the tests from home, if necessary, in May. The College Board is also developing tools to help students in AP programs by providing students and teachers with online resources available through mobile phones and other devices.

Open Meetings Act (OMA) requirements have also been relaxed to allow school board members to attend meetings remotely.

All days of mandated school closure will be counted as Act of God Days, so schools will not have to use emergency days. Teachers should be paid during the closure, and their time will still count toward their retirement.

Schools are still encouraged to provide e-learning materials and other work for students during the closure. However, the districts will have more flexibility in terms of preparing materials, and the schoolwork should not negatively impact a student’s grades or academic standing.

ISBE is also extending deadlines for applications for Early Childhood Block Grants (to April 15) and Title III (to April 27). The state board is also strongly recommending that schools work to provide meals for students who need them. ISBE has obtained a waiver from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to give non-congregate or to-go meals.

Because the Secretary of State offices are also closed at this time, all driver’s licenses and instruction permits that would have expired on or after March 17 have been extended 30 days. A 30-day grace period is also being offered for School Bus Permits.

During the closure, all pre-kindergarten programs at K-12 schools, extracurricular activities, internships, experiential learning opportunities, and school-based driver’s education training are closed as well. Non-public driver’s ed programs are not required to close. While schools could open on March 31, no official date for re-opening has been announced.

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