Education Desk

Credit Dan LoGrasso / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

See the latest reports from NPR Illinois Education Desk reporter Dusty Rhodes. 

The NPR Illinois Education Desk is a community funded initiative to report on stories that impact you.  Stories on the state of education from K-12 to higher education written by Illinois and national journalists.

Funders include:

  • Anonymous Individual Donors
  • Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln
  • Hope Institute for Children and Families
  • Horace Mann Company
  • HSHS St. John's Hospital
  • Illinois Education Association
  • Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance
  • Illinois State Board of Education
  • UIS College of Education & Human Services

Ways to Connect

Mac.edu

A 174 year old educational institution in the area will soon close its doors permanently. 

The board of MacMurray College in Jacksonville voted unanimously Friday to shut down at the end of the spring semester in May.

Updated at 4:39 p.m. ET

With school closed, Marla Murasko begins her morning getting her 14-year-old son, Jacob, dressed and ready for the day. They have a daily check-in: How are you doing? How are you feeling? Next, they consult the colorful, hourly schedule she has pinned on the fridge.

Jacob, who has Down syndrome, loves routine. So this daily routine is important. Schools in Hopkinton, Mass., are closed until April 6th, so Jacob's morning academic lesson — which according to the schedule starts at 9 a.m. — has been temporarily moved to the basement.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

How is the nation's largest school district managing this crisis? Richard Carranza is on the line. He is chancellor of the New York City schools - joins us from home. Good morning, sir.

For 6-year-old Sadie Hernandez, the first day of online school started at her round, wooden kitchen table in Jacksonville, Fla. She turned on an iPad and started talking to her first grade teacher, Robin Nelson.

"Are you ready to do this online stuff?" her teacher asks, in a video sent to NPR by Hernandez's mother, Audrey.

"Yeah," Sadie responds.
"It's kind of scary isn't it?"
"Kind of."

The U.S. Senate's $2 trillion coronavirus relief package includes more than $30 billion for education, with more than $14 billion for colleges and universities and at least $13.5 billion for the nation's K-12 schools.

Deadline Extension: With so many schools closed because of COVID-19, the NPR Student Podcast Challenge has pushed its deadline back to May 1, 2020.

Borrowers who have defaulted on their federal student loans will get a temporary reprieve from having their wages, Social Security benefits and tax refunds garnished by the federal government, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced on Wednesday. This break will last for a minimum of 60 days, beginning March 13.

When Dr. Judy Salerno, who is in her 60s, got word that the New York State health department was looking for retired physicians to volunteer in the coronavirus crisis, she didn't hesitate.

"As I look to what's ahead for New York City, where I live, I'm thinking that if I can use my skills in some way that I will be helpful, I will step up," she says.

The vast majority of states have closed public schools in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and many districts are now faced with a dilemma: how to provide remote learning to students without running afoul of civil rights and disability laws.

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Schools across the country may be closed, but school buses are still on the roads. Some districts are using them to deliver food. Kirsti Marohn of Minnesota Public Radio has this report.

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

This spring was supposed to be an exciting time for Xander Christou. He's a senior in high school in Austin, Texas, and was looking forward to all the fun: prom, senior skip day and of course, graduation.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Throughout today's program, we hear from people about how this outbreak is affecting them. Jenny Lee, an international student at Yale, says this certainly isn't the sophomore year that she expected.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This pandemic is having a profound effect on the lives of students and teachers.

Nearly 30 million children in the U.S. count on schools for free or low-cost breakfast, lunch, snacks and sometimes dinner — but most of those children are now at home. At least 114,000 public and private schools have been closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, affecting the vast majority of the nation's K-12 students, according to an ongoing tally by Education Week.

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Education announced new K-12 and higher education policies in response to disruptions caused by the coronavirus.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

With many schools closed and playdates strongly discouraged due to social distancing, parents are stressed. Whether you're working from home or still having to go in to work or if you have lost your job, it can be overwhelming.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Editor's note: This story was reported and written before the spread of coronavirus forced widespread school closures across the U.S. — including the closure of South Central High School in Farina, Ill. We're publishing now because we think it's the kind of feel-good story many people need right now. We hope you agree.

Once a year, 15-year-old Brandt Hiestand gets a taste of the kind of independence every teenager longs for.

As colleges across the country pivot online on very short notice, there are a host of complications — from laptops and Internet access to mental health and financial needs.

Digital learning experts have some surprising advice: do less.

In-person classes have come to an abrupt end for students across Kansas.

Gov. Laura Kelly announced that she has ordered school buildings K-12 to be closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, citing fears about the spread of the coronavirus disease COVID-19 and the "unprecedented emergency" it presents.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Like so many other parents around the country, I was transitioning to full-time remote work last week while preparing to support my family through a crisis.

That's when my 10-year-old son, Kenzo, came home with a large, Ziploc bag full of school supplies.

It included an iPad with various apps to enable him to attend class virtually, where his teacher will take attendance at 8 a.m. Tiny icons representing his teacher and classmates will appear in the corner of the screen. She can address the class, hear students respond and track their assignments.

University of Illinois Springfield

The University of Illinois is canceling commencement ceremonies at all campuses this spring due to concerns over COVID-19 pandemic. 

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