On May 19, 2021, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) unanimously voted to adopt a resolution requiring schools to resume in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year. ISBE and Dr. Ayala further clarified the resolution in ISBE’s May 18, 2021, Weekly Message and in a May 24, 2021, FAQ document.
Subject to favorable health conditions at the conclusion of the current academic year, Dr. Ayala plans to declare that, beginning with the 2021-2022 school year, all schools must resume full in-person learning for all student attendance days. However, consistent with the requirements of 105 ILCS 5/10-30 and 105 ILCS 5/34-18.66 authorizing Remote and Blended Remote Learning Day Plans, remote instruction must be made available for students who are:
- Not eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine; and
- Under a quarantine order by a local public health department or the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Importantly, both requirements must be met in order for a student to be eligible for remote instruction. Schools should note that mandated remote learning days under the above sections of the School Code and the ISBE resolution’s remote learning day requirements are only applicable during an active gubernatorial disaster proclamation. Students who do not meet the above-stated criteria in the resolution may still be eligible for home/hospital instruction pursuant to 105 ILCS 5/14-13.01, subject to the statutory requirements on medical certification.
In addition for the 2021-2022 school year, school districts maintain the discretion under the School Code to provide individual students remote instruction through Remote Educational Programs pursuant to 105 ILCS 5/10-29, or to create Blended Learning Programs consisting of a combination of face-to-face and online learning through 105 ILCS 5/10-19.05(k)(4). We anticipate ISBE may issue further guidance in the weeks ahead.
We encourage districts to contact Michelle Todd or Heather Brickman to discuss the statutory and policy requirements for implementing individual Remote Educational Programs and Blended Learning Programs prior to the start of the school year.
In the event the Governor lifts the current disaster proclamation, we will provide more information regarding remote learning requirements for the 2021-2022 school year.