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Education

Eighteen young people tested positive for COVID-19 in Sangamon County during the week of August 23.

The weekly number of new cases among those less than 20 years old in each county is one of four metrics the Illinois Department of Public Health began publishing late last month to assist local schools and health departments in making decisions about in-person learning.

Most Illinois school kids will start the school year with remote learning.  That’s according to an Illinois State Board of Education survey of administrators.

Whether it’s the global pandemic or social unrest, nearly everyone has experienced some trauma in 2020.

It’s hard to grasp the long-term mental health implications of COVID-19. But many Americans have already seen their mental health suffer during the pandemic.

Rich Egger/file photo

School districts around western Illinois are taking a variety of approaches to holding classes as the new school year gets underway. A regional school superintendent said that demonstrates the uncertainty brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Rich Egger

Western Illinois University's administration and the University Professionals of Illinois, which represents faculty, have agreed on a plan for holding classes during the fall semester.

As the pandemic began to surge, schools closed and most students switched to online learning almost overnight. Schools with less access to technology relied on paper packets, especially for elementary students.

It was more like crisis teaching, like building the plane as you’re flying it. That’s how Lindsay Zelly described sudden changeover. She’s the director of professional learning at the Illinois Digital Educators Alliance. They provide professional development and online resources to teachers.

Rich Egger

Spoon River College will receive state funding to help complete the next phase of the East Jackson Street campus in Macomb.

With just a few weeks to go before some schools are set to begin their fall semester, the Illinois Federation of Teachers issued a recommendation on Monday that called for students to begin the academic year learning remotely.  It is part of a larger union statement on the new school year.  

The Seizure Smart School Act, is a new law in Illinois that requires schools to train employees and care aides on how to handle students with epilepsy, and how to administer their medications.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which the brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness. It is the fourth most common neurological disorder in the country.

Courtesy of Dominican University

Even before the pandemic began, Lisbeth Hernandez says she was exhausted. Hernandez is heading into her senior year at Dominican University, a small Catholic college in Chicago’s western suburbs. 

Illinois recently released guidelines for schools to return in-person this fall. Some concerned parents are choosing to homeschool their kids this year rather than send them back to in-person classes during COVID-19.

Brandi Poreda has homeschooled three of her kids over the last 20 years. She said the biggest advantage of homeschooling is flexibility.

Her first piece of advice to parents homeschooling for the first time? Don’t try to replicate the public school classroom experience.

Governor Releases Fall Plans for Schools And Colleges

Jun 24, 2020

Governor J.B. Pritzker wants to see kids in the classroom this fall.  He released guidance Tuesday for students returning to school and college.

A list of health and safety guidelines for getting students back in classrooms is scheduled to be released before the end of the month. It will provide rules and recommendations for more than 850 school districts resuming classes this fall.

ELINERIJPERS / 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.

School districts across the state have been resourceful in coming up with ways to honor their high school graduates, as health regulations prohibit the typical ceremonies.  But some of those plans ran into roadblocks with the governor’s office and the Illinois State Board of Education. 

Lisa Marlow is worried about her students. Marlow is a school nurse and educator with the Murphysboro Community Unit School District 186. 

The district serves primarily low-income students in a rural part of southern Illinois. 

When school is in session, Marlow says having eyes on students, especially those with chronic conditions like Type 1 diabetes or asthma, is crucial.

Families often count on their local school districts to provide two meals a day for their kids. But with school buildings closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, getting meals to students can be a challenge, especially in rural areas.

Rural families also often find it difficult to drive many miles to see if the grocery store has restocked needed items.

Courtesy of Lindsey Jensen

About half of Gladys Marquez's students can't access the internet at home. Marquez teaches English language learners at Dwight Eisenhower High School in Blue Island on Chicago's south side. The school serves predominantly students of color from low-income backgrounds. 

A high score on the SAT or ACT is no longer required for admission to more than a dozen four-year colleges and universities in Illinois. As of last week, that includes Northern Illinois University, which will now accept a high school GPA of 3.0 for admission.

 

Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, Western Illinois University, and many private colleges had already adopted similar policies. They’re all part of a growing movement.

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Documents illustrate what happens when a student is put in an isolation room.

It’s a few minutes before 10 a.m. and a student at Circuit Breaker School in Peru, Illinois is trying to escape the classroom. The child hits and kicks the glass window on the door, and doesn’t respond well to redirection and choices offered by staff. So staff takes the student to the timeout room, where the child screams and hits their head against the floor for two minutes.

A suburban Chicago school teacher is asking the Illinois Supreme Court to agree she can use her paid sick days for maternity leave. The catch? Her baby was born in June, on the last full day of the school year. The teacher wanted to use her remaining 28 paid sick days at the start of the following school year. 

 

Adam Dauksas, an attorney representing the school district, told the court that interpretation disconnects the leave from the birth, and could have absurd results.

Over the past six months I have had the wonderful opportunity to talk with area high school students.  My research in studying the rural teacher shortage crisis through the perceptions of high school students was a natural extension of my commitment to teaching.  As of October 2019, according to the Illinois State Board of Education there were reportedly over 4,000 unfilled positions in our Illinois public schools. Most of them are classroom teachers; many of them in rural school districts. Implications of this shortage are wide-reaching for rural schools that struggle to recruit and retain qualified teachers as positions remain unfilled or are subject to frequent turnover.

Spencer Tritt/Northern Public Radio - WNIJ

High school students through the decades have sweated over the college admissions tests, the ACT and the SAT.  Now, more and more schools are not requiring applicants to take the standardized tests.

Governor J-B Pritzker says he's "appalled" by reports of forced student isolation in Illinois schools and promised immediate action.

The Illinois State Board of Education yesterday released its new report card. That name makes it sound like gives schools a grade, which it does. But there’s much more to it than that. Here are five things you need to know about the Illinois Report Card:  

Monday – Friday, September 23 – 27, 2019 | unknown precisely (during ME/AE):
Enrollment Exodus, 5-Part Series from Illinois Public Radio stations
(details, TBD)

"Aid To Injury" by MAMC Photography is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Dianne Gordon, a mom who lives in Champaign, knew something was wrong with her daughter Rory the minute she stepped off the school bus one afternoon in April. 

COURTESY OF REPMMURPHY.COM

Pleasant Plains is a small but prosperous town about 15 minutes northwest of Springfield. Its schools are all rated "commendable," and their test results outshine state averages in every subject.

Pleasant Plains is a small but prosperous town about 15 minutes northwest of Springfield. Its schools are all rated “commendable,” and their test results outshine state averages in every subject.

And yet, in March, the high school principal, Luke Brooks, asked Illinois lawmakers to stop requiring algebra.

Last year, a school nurse in East Moline faced a moral dilemma when a diabetic student lost consciousness in her office. Now she’s trying to make sure no other school nurse has to face the same tough choice.

Low blood sugar can usually be cured with orange juice and a granola bar. But those snacks and glucose tabs weren’t helping the 7th grader sitting in Jennifer Jacobs’ office.

“Her blood sugar kept falling, and we kept pushing the snacks,” Jacobs says.

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