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Recommendations for Remote Learning-IL

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.

Emergency Rule

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

individual IEP.

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

Sustained Attention

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

Instructional Services

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

in detail).

• 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:

• Rubrics

• 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,