Schools in Illinois are closed through March 31st in hopes of slowing the COVID-19 pandemic via social distancing. And it’s likely that they’ll need to be closed for much longer.
The IL General Assembly has cancelled session this week, and in light of the major societal disruption ahead, our legislative advocacy in coming months will likely focus on emergency measures to support public school families. Sign up for alerts and updates from us here.
One initial quick thing we can do is to push the federal government cancel mandated annual testing; use this letter-writing campaign from the Network for Public Education to urge the US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to do just that.
Here's a (starter) list of resources for families during this time. Suggestions/additions/questions are very much welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org
Basic resources for families
- Illinois Department of Public Health COVID-19 page
- City of Chicago COVID-19 page
- The IL State Board of Education recommends that schools still provide meals for pick up during closures; check with your school district. Info on this for Chicago here (and more detail here). The Greater Chicago Food Depository has info on where to find food and meals and how to help others if you can.
How to Talk to Your Child About the Coronavirus Advice from a clinical psychologist (NY Times)
- Social Work Tools & Resources for Students Amid COVID-19 Break assembled by Chicago Public School special education teachers and social workers
- Hotline for Domestic Violence help in Illinois Crisis intervention and referrals to emergency housing and support services
Schooling in a time of coronavirus
Most schools in Illinois aren’t prepared to do e-learning. And e-learning will continue to present unresolved issues for children due to privacy and screen-time concerns. Here’s information and advice on that from national advocacy groups we work with:
- Parent Coalition for Student Privacy’s Advice to parents on maximizing privacy & minimizing screen time while your child’s school is closed
- Network for Public Education’s Online learning: What every parent should know
- Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood: School is Closed. Now What? Low-screen, commercial-free options social distancing ideas.
Note that the IL State Board of Ed has said that schools cannot grade work assigned during March 17-March 30th unless it will improve a child’s academic standing (i.e. extra credit).
No matter what schools are able to roll out in terms of distance learning (digital or otherwise), keep things in perspective about what this time will be like. What children and families are going to experience in the coming months is unprecedented for most people. Many people are going to be dealing with concerns about shelter, food, safety and mental and physical health; those concerns will inevitably take precedence over worries about missing some months of academic instruction.
All that said, when all there is for children to do is stay home, keeping occupied is key; there are tons of free resources online for educational experiences and enrichment, including digital and non-digital activities, if you need ideas.
Here’s a few places to start:
- Library Resources for Distance Learning for elementary-aged children
- Play Ideas for When Kids Are Stuck at Home by Dr. Jenny Radesky
- Do School At Home - A Guide to Unplugged Learning at Home This guide from members of the CCFC Screens in Schools Work Group helps kids think of fun, educational activities if they're stuck inside.
- Virtual Museum Visits
- Chicago Public Fools’ blogger Julie Vassilatos normally writes about public schools advocacy, but this week she has suggestions for keeping adults and kids busy during social distancing
- Anti-oppressive, anti-racist homeschool curriculum ideas
- Giant list of ideas for being home with kids
- Math for Love Math lessons and activities that aren’t online with an emphasis on puzzles and games; can search by grade-level
- University of Maine ecology professor, Dr. Jacquelyn Gill, Twitter thread on science activities
- For older children: Franklin and Marshall College biology professor Dan Ardia's COVID-19 EDUCATIONAL INFORMATION AND RESOURCES
- St. Paul Chamber Orchestra Video Performances
- SAG-AFTRA Storyline Famous/semi-famous actors reading storybooks
- Amazing Educational Resources - Crowdsourced list of education companies offering free subscriptions due to school closings
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) recently posted a new parental consent form for the Student Search Service survey. This is an optional questionnaire that's administered along with SAT, PSAT and Advanced Placement exams sold by the College Board.
The new consent form is inadequate in several ways, and we sent State Superintendent Carmen Ayala a letter asking ISBE to address our concerns.Read more
Last fall we put out an alert about the IL State Board of Ed proposing changing rules and setting requirements that would go beyond what federal law says Illinois must do with respect to testing and opt out and asking for people to submit public comments about these changes to oppose further entrenching the overuse of standardized testing in Illinois.Read more
On Jan 2nd, Raise Your Hand Action sent a letter to Tony Smith, State Superintendent of Schools, and James Meeks, Chair of the Illinois State Board of Education, and to chairs of both the Senate and House education committees regarding ISBE rule changes on teacher licensure.Read more
ISBE is currently proposing changing rules and setting requirements that go beyond what federal law says Illinois must do with respect to testing and opt out. These changes further entrench the overuse of standardized testing in Illinois.
Please raise your voice and submit a public comment about these changes. Email your comment to email@example.com by Sunday, December 2nd.Read more