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On April 8, 2020, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) issued an update to its Mandatory Suspension of In-Person Instruction Guidance for Illinois Schools and School Districts Frequently Asked Questions document. This guidance document provides updated guidance specific to the unique special education issues implicated by COVID-19 and the mandated school closures. Although this update does not include any new guidance related to the provision of special education services during Remote Learning Days, ISBE has provided updates in the areas of management of state testing materials, administration of the Constitution test, attendance during the Act of God days, professional development, access to CARES funding, multilingual education, meal reimbursement during spring break, essential data collection, non-public schools, and virtual activities.

Below are highlights for some of the updated items:

  • Timely and Meaningful Consultation: Districts must complete their timely and meaningful consultation activities with private school officials. ISBE has not indicated flexibility in the completion date of May 31, 2020.
  • Enrollment: Districts should continue to enroll new students during Remote Learning Days. Districts may need to create new procedures to allow for new student enrollment to occur remotely. In-person registration should only occur on an as-needed basis.
  • State Testing Materials: Districts should return any unused Illinois Assessment of Readiness materials to Pearson upon staff’s safe return to the schools/district. Completed assessments will be scored and reported. Specific instructions on the return of these materials can be found on page 3, question number 5. Unused PSAT and SAT materials should be held until it is safe to return to school. Labels for the secure return of materials are located in the test boxes. Additional directions on return of materials can be found on page 4, question number 6.
  • State Constitution Test: The requirement for administration of the constitution test is currently suspended under Executive Order 2020-15. The requirement will be reinstated in the future. Districts can offer non-senior students an opportunity to demonstrate mastery through remote learning or offer an assessment when in-person learning resumes.
  • Attendance: ISBE confirmed that it was not necessary to take attendance during the “Act of God” closure days, from March 17 through March 30, 2020.
  • Multilingual Education: Recommendations for multilingual learning can be found in ISBE’s Remote Learning Recommendations document. Additional recommendations are forthcoming.
  • Spring Break Meal Provision: Meals served during a district’s planned spring break are reimbursable and should be counted as they have in the past. Districts who are unable to count or upload these meals because their system considers spring break days to be non-attendance days may go into WINS to record these meals. Please contact [email protected] with questions.

For additional guidance on issues related to COVID-19, please refer to HLERK’s  guidance documents or contact any of the attorneys in our Students/Special Education Practice Group.