This is an Illinois State Board of Education Remote Learning Recommendations summary. The Recommendations were released on March 27, 2020. I have included the direct links if you would like to peruse the entire 64 page document or the 3 page Emergency Rule. I have pulled out the parts that specifically related to special education and what I felt you as the parent would want to know. There are other parts in the document that cover all the remaining general education guidelines for specific grades and multilingual students. Please follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or contact me through email for further assistance with the information contained in this post or other special education needs you have.
Each Remote Learning Day Plan shall address all of the following:
A) Accessibility of the remote instruction to all students enrolled in the school or district.
B) When applicable, a requirement that the Remote Learning Days activities reflect the State learning standards.
C) Means for students to confer with an educator, as necessary.
D) The unique needs of students in special populations, including, but not limited, students eligible for special education under Article 14 of the Code, students who are English learners, as defined by Section 14C-2 of the Code, students experiencing homelessness under the Education for Homeless Children Act [105 ILCS 45], or vulnerable student populations.
Each Remote Learning Day Plan shall be posted on the school's or district's Internet website where other policies, rules, and standards of conduct are posted and shall be provided to students and faculty.
Illinois State Board of Education Remote Learning Recommendations
During this time, students with special needs and IEPs should be given the opportunity to
continue with learning that is consistent for all students. This learning will be based on the
As educators work to implement these recommendations, we call upon everyone to assume flexibility and grace for all.
The following recommendations and guidelines are presented as suggested minimum and maximum times of engagement by each student in remote learning activities.
Grade Level Minimum Maximum Recommended Length of
PreK 20 min/day 60 min/day 3-5 minutes
K 30 min/ day 90 min/day 3-5 minutes
1-2 45 min/day 90 min/day 5-10 minutes
3-5 60 min/day 120 min/day 10-15 minutes 6-8 Class:15 min/day Class: 30 min/day 1 subject area or class Total: 90 min/day Total: 180 min/day
9-12 Class: 20 min/day Class: 45 min/day Total:120 min/day Total: 270 min/day 1 subject area or class
Further, we encourage teachers to give additional optional work, engagement opportunities, and enrichment opportunities (e.g., independent research projects) as long as it is made clear to students and families that the work is optional and will not negatively impact a student’s grade. Additional engagement is especially important for primary grades, where it is not developmentally appropriate to expect a student to attend to academic tasks for a long period of time. Instead, students and families should be supported in having access to varied enrichment opportunities. In addition, students and families are encouraged to support academic skills and social-emotional health through activities that extend beyond assigned remote learning work.
Suggestions for Additional (Optional) Activities
Reading, e.g., independent reading, listening to someone else read, audiobooks ● Puzzles, Word Searches ● Write a story or in a journal ● Count money ● Draw a map of your neighborhood ● Building with blocks or Legos ● Listen to a podcast ● Watch a documentary
● Take a walk ● Dance ● Exercise ● Fine/gross motor activities ● Stretch or do yoga ● Play a sport
Listen to music or sing ● Playing (inside or outside) ● Creative arts ● Coloring or drawing
● Imaginative play ● Meditate ● Do something you’ve been avoiding
● Clean up your room ● Do age appropriate chores ● Gardening ● Fix something broken ● Take care of pets or plants ● Cook or bake
● Write a letter to someone ● Play board games with a family member ● Tell jokes or riddles ● Build a fort and tell stories in it ● Offer to help someone
Special Education and Related Services
Students with disabilities are particularly vulnerable during times of disruption and change. To
ensure ongoing growth and progress, districts should focus their planning efforts on how to
continue serving these students to the greatest extent practicable by tailoring remote learning
that provides educational benefits to students with disabilities. All decisions regarding special
education must comply with guidance from the U.S. Department of Education
The basic guidelines and options/opportunities are based on the following core beliefs:
• IEPs remain in place and should direct students' remote learning. Be mindful that a
student’s program may require commencing a team meeting.
• Adhere to local procedures and leverage local leadership.
• Emphasize structure and consistency for students with special needs.
• Students with special needs benefit greatly from ongoing motivation and excel when
relationships with adults and peers are strong.
• Resources should be viewed broadly and include leveraging local associations,
professional organizations, government agencies, and more.
• Affirm that all students can achieve growth in all capacities. Learning opportunities
should occur 24/7 and should be tracked, when applicable.
New Content and Review/Practice
The focus of instruction should be individualized and based on the students’ IEPs, their goals,
the modifications, and accommodations within the IEP. To ensure this differentiation occurs,
there should be communication between special and general education teachers (including
bilingual/ESL and dual language teachers), case coordinators, teacher assistants, and clinicians
to support students in accessibility and in meeting their IEP benchmarks and goals.
Districts and educators should also should ensure the curriculum is accessible and multisensory in its nature to support all learning styles and language proficiency levels for Multilingual Learners.
Any changes to programs or goals should be made in conforming with federal and state
required procedural safeguards.
Social-emotional learning strategies are integral to students’ learning and well-being. Many of
our students have clinician services and intense social-emotional needs documented in their
IEPs. This pandemic can exacerbate some of those needs. Special educators should
collaborate with the students’ clinicians to work on activities that support students with
stress/anxiety reduction and other SEL activities.
Communication Processes and Structures Needed to Support this Work
The following are considerations for family and student communication:
• Special ed listserv-targeted emails to families of special needs students
• Phone calls on a regular schedule from case managers
• Use of appropriate staff to overcome need and language barriers
• Communication from all professionals that interact with students, including, but not
limited to, social workers, speech-language pathologists, paraprofessionals, school
psychologists, and counselors
Roles of Related Service Professionals and Paraprofessionals in Delivering
It is essential during remote learning that these professionals are a part of
the continued learning of our students.
• Provide resources for families in need of assistance, such as mental health resources,
crisis lines, suicide prevention.
• When possible, clinicians can conduct check-in calls, and clinicians (such as Physical
Therapy/Occupational Therapy) could consider creating videos on exercises, etc.
Instruction Ideas (So you know what is expected from your child's teacher)
• Identify realistic, individualized time frames for task completion. Be mindful of extended
time accommodations outlined in IEPs.
• Provide specific instruction and mini-deadlines/benchmarks for assignments, especially
those with multiple-tasks.
• Create opportunities for students to demonstrate progress and receive feedback related
to assignments and IEP goals.
• Use student interest profiles to inform lessons and activities.
• Provide alternative options for participating in virtual class discussions
• Create video modeling of how you expect something to be done or what has been
successful in the school setting, such as hand-over-hand assistance in the classroom.
• Use built-in accessibility features in learning management systems, albeit on an
individualized basis according to student need, for example:
* Use heading styles that allow screen reading software to navigate from section to
* Use font, size, and text formatting to distinguish between items or to navigate.
Ensure no information is conveyed solely by color or sound.
* Use Alt-Text to allow users with screen readers or with slow connection to
identify your images, graphs, and charts.
* Enable tooltips so that descriptions appear when users hover over images,
graphs, and charts.
• Provide transcripts of any pre-recorded audio or video used with students. Use closed
captioning on videos.
• Use descriptive titles, headers, and captions to provide additional context and
information for students.
• Use descriptive text in hyperlinks so students clearly know where the link will take them.
Avoid phrases like “click here” or “read more” without additional descriptors.
“Hands-On” Options for Remote Learning
• Use non-digital resources of work. (Where possible, coordinate this effort with the case
manager and/or assistance of paraprofessionals.)
• Incorporate life skills essential for students with IEPs. This includes, but is not limited to,
cooking, ratios, chores, cleaning, hygiene, etc.
• Have students track activities with photos or videos and submit to teachers.
• Keep meditation logs and provide links to meditation apps and YouTube videos.
• Encourage journaling.
• Utilize ground activities (e.g., choose five objects that are around you and describe them
• Utilize virtual museum tours and video demonstrations.
All directives from the U.S. Department of Education for students with disabilities should be
followed in relation to the school closure for COVID-19.
The IEP team must convene before any changes to students’ IEP required assessments and/or
grading policies are made for the duration of the school closure.
Alternative Grading/Assessment Suggestions
When grading/assessing student work, it is important to note the priority is to assess in a
manner that supports motivation and participation in remote learning. The assessments or
grading should not be punitive in any manner.
Every effort should be made for collaboration between case managers, service providers, and
general education staff when determining a summative grade for the quarter.
Assessments should be as inclusive as possible. Suggestions for assessments and grading
practices that most benefit students with disabilities include:
• Standards-Based Grading
• IEP Goals and Objectives-Based Grading
• Competency-Based Grading
• Evidenced-Based Grading
• Portfolio-Based Grading
• Contract/Negotiation-Based Grading (Effort to improve current assignment to raise letter
• Narrative Feedback for Video Observations or Family Anecdotal Reports
• Narrative Feedback for Written Work or Projects
• Pass/Incomplete (Although usually not recommended for students with disabilities, it
may be appropriate during school closures.)
When developing individualized grading/assessment practices for students with disabilities, the
following factors should be considered:
• Student need and present levels of performance
• IEP Goals and Objectives
• Kinds of accommodations/modifications/services that are provided
• Capacity of support in the remote learning environment
• Social-emotional response to the COVID-19 crisis
• Access to needed resources to participate in learning
• Student’s past performance
• Current grades
• Transition and postsecondary goals
As educators work to implement these recommendations, we call upon everyone to assume flexibility and grace for all.
Remote learning is learning that happens outside of the traditional classroom because the student and teacher are separated by distance and/or time. Remote learning can be real-time or 2 flexibility timed, and it may or may not involve technology.
Local Education Agencies (LEAs) should investigate the technological landscape of the community and determine what type of remote learning makes logical sense in the context. Neighboring school districts may look different. Real-time, technology-infused remote learning may be appropriate for District A, while flexibly timed instruction without technology is the right choice for District B. District C might find that a plan including a blend of real-time, flexibly timed, technological, and non-technological options is the best fit for its students and families.
Successful, consistent remote learning includes:
• Clearly articulated goals
• Cross-curricular collaboration to focus instruction
• Options for students that tap into students’ interests, readiness levels, and learning
styles while providing families flexibility
• A mix of real-time, flexibly timed, technological, and non-technological options, that
avoids penalizing students for their choice
• A common platform where students can access work and find support and resources (for
both online and non-online work).
• A clear plan of communication involving the school, teachers, students, and families.
• Genuine interest and effort in supporting students’ social, emotional, and academic
Communicating with Students
• Maintain classroom customs and norms as much as possible
• Remind students how to best communicate with the teacher and, when appropriate,
peers (a social-emotional learning opportunity)
• Ensure all students have access to information through at least one form of
communication (mail, packets dropped off by bus driver or picked up, phone, video,
• Set guidelines for teacher response times
• Maintain regular communication and set a minimum threshold for contact
Communicating with Families
• Avoid educational jargon and define terms to ensure understanding
• Survey families to identify needs and follow through to provide for those needs.
• To the extent possible, communicate with families in the language they are most
• Provide recommendations on how to support the whole child
• Solicit actionable feedback
• Provide timely information
Planning for Illness
Student Illness: A student who becomes ill should either be excused from the assignments provided during that time or given ample time to make up the work. Students cannot be negatively impacted during the remote learning period, and districts should provide emotional support for grave illnesses.
Family Illness for Teachers or Students: If the family member of a student or teacher becomes gravely ill, compassion and support for the student or teacher are the first priority of the district. Districts should provide emotional support services to the extent possible, and student cannot be negatively impacted.
Essential Instructional Recommendations
We strongly encourage:
• Planning for remote learning that respects the needs of all students and staff
• Implementing remote learning that attends to the diversity of each community to ensure that all students have access to equitable educational opportunities
• Meticulously documenting the best efforts possible being made under the current emergency conditions with regard to students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and Section 504 Plans
• Structuring active student engagement with learning in accordance with the age appropriate thresholds presented on this chart
Selecting content for remote learning that is aligned to standards, relevant, and appropriate for each student
Practicing consistent communication with students, families, and staff to understand how the health emergency is impacting them
Essential Grading Recommendations
The assessments or grading should not be punitive in any manner.
• The emphasis for schoolwork assigned, reviewed, and completed during the remote learning period is on learning, not on compliance
• Grading should focus on the continuation of learning and prioritize the connectedness and care for students and staff. All students should have the opportunity to redo, make up, or try again to complete, show progress, or attempt to complete work assigned prior to the remote learning period in that time frame. A focus on keeping children emotionally and physically safe, fed, and engaged in learning should be our first priority during this unprecedented time.
The recommendations on grading are based upon the principle of no educational harm to any child.
This pandemic and the statewide suspension of in-person instruction – the first in modern history – has impacted our entire society.
The recommendations on grading during this period of unprecedented crisis offers direction to school leaders for pass/incomplete options (not pass/fail). The advisory group expects that student learning continues during the remote learning period. The group does not want a negative impact on students. In place of an “F,” for example, the recommendation is for an “incomplete” that can be made up when the remote learning period ends. Individual student engagement or disengagement will be addressed locally. There are factors outside of the control of the school system with learning being moved off site; therefore, the aim is that student grades are not lowered as a result of remote learning. ISBE recommends that a student who is not able to be engaged, or who chooses to disengage, in remote learning should receive an incomplete or no grade.
Document every attempt made to engage the student; it is very possible the student is experiencing circumstances out of their control. Where possible, the content from remote learning should be made up after the transition back to regular in-person school attendance resumes (summer school, August school, other).
Remote student learning during this pandemic may be formatively assessed (where possible
We acknowledge that it may need to be assessed during the transition back to
in-person instruction. Remote learning is designed to support student learning and continuity of
education. Grading is feedback and communication in a snapshot of time to students and
The aim, emphasis, and focus for schoolwork assigned, reviewed, and completed
during remote learning is on learning, not on compliance.
All students should have the opportunity to redo, make up, or try again to complete, show
progress, or attempt to complete work assigned prior to remote learning. The emphasis for
schoolwork assigned, reviewed, and completed during the remote learning period is on learning,
not on compliance. Grading should be used for coaching.
If students cannot or do not complete the work, there may be an incomplete grade assigned and a return to work incomplete remediation period.
Health and Wellness
The health and wellness of all Illinois staff and students is the fundamental priority at this time.
Primary Care Givers: If the family’s child doesn’t have a primary care provider, they should contact https://www.illinois.gov/hfs/MedicalPrograms/AllKids/Pages/default.aspx
or 1-866-ALL-KIDS (1-866-255-5437).
Sleep Guidelines: Students aged 3 – 5 years old need 11 to 13 hours of sleep.
Students aged 5 – 10 years old need 10 to 11 hours. Students aged 11 – 18 years old
need 9 to 10 hours
Exercise: Gross motor movement is more important now than ever but can also be more difficult to achieve with an adjusted schedule and social distancing. Children and adolescents age 6 and older need at least an hour a day of physical activity. Most of the hour should be either moderate or vigorous aerobic activity. Vigorous activity should be included at least three days a week. Parents should keep social distancing in mind when arranging for physical activity, and some may not have access to a safe place to do this. At the very least, a vigorous walk around their neighborhood where active conversation occurs about their immediate environment (houses, trees, animals, neighbors) or a developmentally appropriate conversation about what is going on in the world and why it’s so different from the norm. Other examples of moderate activity are sweeping the floor, walking briskly, dancing, vacuuming, washing windows, yardwork. More vigorous activity could involve a bike ride, playing tag with siblings or parents, and taking the family dog for a run
Stay Hydrated: An easy rule to follow would be for a child to drink an 8 oz. glass of water for every year they are old, with a maximum of eight glasses of water for ages 8 and up. This is in addition to whatever else they are drinking. It is important to remember that sugary drinks (soft drinks, cans of ice tea, “sport” drinks) should be minimized, as they are not healthy and actually create more thirst.
Practicing Good Hygiene: Hand hygiene is important to practice, especially whenever returning from outside -- wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water. Regular bathing, changing clothes, and involving children in cleaning the house are all good ways to have children make the connection between hygiene and health.
Stress Management: Being mindful of the overall heightened stress level is important because the goal of remote learning is not to add stress, but to maintain learning, to the extent that this is possible under current circumstances. Everyone has different tools to manage stress, and it is important to prioritize healthy mechanisms (e.g., exercise, mindful breathing, talking about feelings, adequate sleep) over less healthy ones (e.g., denial of circumstances, stress eating, escapism via excessive video gaming or binge watching shows).
Teachers and school districts must Consider Family/Home Context
In this time of rapidly changing public health and economic uncertainty, districts must
ensure that their method of remote learning accounts for:
• Students who are home alone while adults are working
• Students who are caretakers for siblings or ill family members
• Students who work to help support their family
• Students who speak a language other than English and have language needs
• Students whose parents speak a language other than English and cannot assist with
• Students who have special education needs (e.g., children with an IEP, twice exceptional students)
• Students who are coping with the illness or loss of a family member
• Students who are struggling with anxiety or depression
• Staff who are working remotely and simultaneously planning and delivering remote
instruction while also providing care for their families and, in many cases, their own
Example Responsibilities: This is not an inclusive list of recommended responsibilities.
Responsibilities should be appropriate for the context.
• Implement remote learning plans
• Communicate regularly with all stakeholders.
• Support teachers in planning and implementing remote learning plans.
• Help families find needed resources in the community (academic,
• Make remote learning activities available in a timely manner.
• Be available at scheduled times to answer student/caregiver
• Provide timely feedback on student work.
• Communicate regularly with students.
• Provide a range of meaningful learning opportunities that meet the
needs of all learners during the period of closure.
• Provide regular feedback to students on progress related to learning
• Review assigned work.
• Complete your assigned work by the due date.
• Ask clarifying questions when you need help or don’t understand
• Be respectful to yourself, teachers and peers.
• Review work assigned to the student.
• Reserve a space for students to complete remote learning work.
• Encourage students to get enough sleep.
• Set sensible time limits for technology use.
• Talk to students about their work every day.
• Help students establish and follow regular daily routines.