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Half of Illinois’ students poised to start the year with only remote learning

Districts with all-remote plans are concentrated in the Chicago metro area, new data from the state Board of Education shows.

School Children Take Part In Remote Learning During Coronavirus Pandemic

Seven-year-old Hamza Haqqani participates in a remote class at his home in Bartlett, Illinois.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Most school districts in the Chicago region are planning to go all-remote or offer hybrid arrangements to start the school year, while many districts in the rest of the state favor returning children to school buildings for in-person learning.

About 22% of Illinois districts, representing roughly half the state’s students, will start the school year with only remote learning. Those districts are concentrated in the Chicago area, new data from the state Board of Education shows, and include some of the largest districts in the state. (Chalkbeat is tracking districts’ plans and their details here.)

Meanwhile, 30% of districts — representing about one-tenth of the state’s students — are tentatively planning for all in-person learning. 

The rest, or nearly half the state’s districts, will offer a blended model, a mix of in-person and remote classes. This includes districts that will offer families an all-remote learning option.

Districts in the Chicago metro region, which includes the city and its suburbs, were largely planning for some in-person instruction at the start of the summer. But with infection rates climbing across the state and school start dates approaching, many districts have reversed course and moved to all-remote plans. Some districts have delayed start dates to give educators and administrators additional time to prepare.

The state Board of Education has been tracking fall learning plans through a survey sent out to all districts. The latest survey results include data from 671 districts, accounting for 1.6 million students.

The state, which has more than 850 districts and 2 million students in all, has given districts flexibility to craft reopening plans, allowing schools to return to classrooms with restrictions, or offer all-remote classes.

The state’s largest teachers unions have said they are willing to strike if schools don’t follow safe reopening plans this fall.

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