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ISBE: IL Schools Can Now Offer Summer In-Person Learning

via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Illinois schools are now able to welcome students back for some types of in-person learning during the summer. The State Board of Education has issued guidance to districts to offer several programs.

Districts can start offering behind the wheel driving classes and host early childhood interventions, among other things, as long as they follow the rules: only 10 people at a time in one space, they must be six feet apart and be wearing masks.

Board spokeswoman Jackie Matthews says it’s a step in the right direction.

“In-person instruction is the best way to learn, and so we want that in-person instruction to be available for students, especially those who are in the greatest need of additional services and supports over the summer," she said.

“I know families are eager to be able to get back to work and to have their kids in school as well, and so we are trying to get school buildings open safely as soon as possible.”

Matthews says individual districts should be preparing to conduct remote learning in the fall. Once Illinois moves to the next phase of reopening, the Board is expected to issue more guidance on in-person learning.

Here's the full list of activities Illinois schools can now offer, according to ISBE guidance:

Behind-the-Wheel Instruction -- "Students may participate in behind-the-wheel instruction. Vehicles must be cleaned and sanitized between each use and only two students and one instructor may be in a vehicle at a time."

Child Find -- "Districts may conduct activities pertaining to the legal requirement that schools find all children who have disabilities and who may be entitled to special education services.

Early Childhood, Special Education, and English Learner Screenings -- "Schools and districts may conduct in-person early childhood, special education, and English Learner screenings."

Extended School Year -- "Districts may offer extended school year services, as appropriate, to students whose Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) require the service."

Host Summer Camps and Other Programs -- "Schools and districts may allow buildings to be used for summer camps and other programs sponsored by third parties. Playgrounds may not be used."

Individualized Education Program Meetings -- "Districts may conduct IEP meetings for families who have been unable to engage in virtual IEP meetings. These meetings should still be held virtually, to the greatest extent possible."

Mediation and Due Process Hearings -- "Mediations and due process hearings may take place in person. However, it is recommended that mediation and due process hearings still be conducted virtually, if all parties agree to do so."

School Registration -- "Staff may provide in-person registration for students and families, when necessary. Schools and districts should also provide remote registration opportunities."

Special Education Evaluations -- "Districts may conduct evaluations that could not be completed virtually. Evaluations should still be held virtually, to the greatest extent possible."

Staff Meetings and Professional Development -- "Districts may convene staff members for any appropriate training, planning, and professional development purposes."

Summer Meals Distribution -- "ISBE highly encourages school districts to evaluate the needs of their students and community as they transition into the different phases of opening the state and continue to provide meals through the summer to meet the needs of their communities. The required Summer Food Service trainings can be conducted virtually. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently extended several key flexibilities through Aug. 31, 2020, to allow school districts to continue to provide non-congregate meals to meet the needs of their communities. Further, Public Act 096-0734 requires every public school in which at least 50 percent of the students were eligible for free and reduced-price lunches and has a summer school program must provide a summer breakfast and/or lunch to the students in the summer school and children in that community."

Summer School -- "Schools and districts may conduct in-person summer school. Special populations, which may include students with IEPs, English Learners, and students who received incompletes during remote instruction, should receive priority consideration for services."

Testing Centers -- "Schools may serve as testing sites for students."

Sam is a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working out the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau.