COVID-19 Policy Updates


April 5 - Webinar - Child Care Business Resources: COVID-19



Please join the Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD) and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) on Monday, April 6th at 10:00 AM for a webinar on Child Care Business Resources: COVID-19. 


This webinar will feature opening remarks from IDHS's Secretary Hou and GOECD's Acting Executive Director Dr. Jor'dan, as well as important updates on new federal and state resources to support operations during this COVID-19 State of Emergency. Click here to register for Monday's webinar.


Click here for draft slides of Monday's presentation and here for a toolkit of child care provider resources. 


If you are unable to join at the time of the webinar or if the webinar reaches capacity, the final PowerPoint slides, a recording of the webinar, and an updated version of the  toolkit will be posted to the GOECD website after the webinar under "Business Resources" in the "Resources for Child Care Providers" section of the webpage. 


Application information for the Paycheck Protection Program is currently available on the U.S. Department of Treasury website.


Feel free to share this with your networks. 


April 3 - PPP Loan Clarifications and Delays

Some Delays with Applying for Paycheck Protection Program Loans

Last night the Small Business Administration released Interim Final Rules for the Paycheck Protection Program loans established by the CARES Act. Financial institutions are working to review the rules, update their processes and paperwork accordingly, and are awaiting additional information regarding documentation that will be required. As such, even though applying for a loan was supposed to be viable starting today, most banks are not yet taking applications. If you have not already, you should get in touch with an SBA approved lender and get on their list so that you receive information on when they will open their portal to take applications; some are currently expecting they will be able to take applications online beginning Monday, April 6th, though that could change depending on when SBA releases further information.

Some information has been clarified and defined in this guidance:
  • The interest rate for any portion of the loan that is deemed not forgivable will be 1% (previous information said .5%)
  • The loan terms are set at 2 years (the CARES Act allows for up to 10 years, but SBA has set it at 2)
  • The proceeds of a PPP loan are to be used for:
    1. payroll costs (as defined in the Act and in 2.f.)
      • note there are some exclusions, such as salary amounts in excess of $100,000
    2. costs related to the continuation of group health care benefits during periods of paid sick, medical, or family leave, and insurance premiums
    3. mortgage interest payments (but not mortgage prepayments or principal payments)
    4. rent payments
    5. utility payments
    6. interest payments on any other debt obligations that were incurred before February 15, 2020
  • Borrowers will not have to make payments during the first 6 months of the loan, but interest still accrues during that time
  • Not more than 25% of the loan forgiveness amount may be attributable to non-payroll costs.
Applicants will have to attest to a number of items which can be seen in the application in the "Certifications" section.

This guidance is currently silent on the issue of whether recipients of PPP loans will be deemed direct recipients of federal financial assistance.

We will work to post additional information as it becomes available.

April 3 - ISBE - Remote Learning Recommendations in Spanish, Zoom Policies for Schools, Assistive Technology, All in Illinois

Dear Colleagues: 


Thank you to all of the school principals who participated in today’s webinars. Your questions and concerns proved yet again that you’re keeping your eyes on our shared goals of prioritizing our students, families, and communities. I appreciate the kindness and respect that characterize our conversations as we work through the pop quizzes presented by this COVID-19 pandemic. 


I’m pleased to tell you the Spanish version of the Remote Learning Recommendations is posted on our COVID-19 webpage and linked here. We anticipate sharing the Polish and Arabic translations tomorrow and hope these resources can help you reach your families equitably. 


Ever mindful of the fact that many families rely on our schools for nutrition, ISBE is working in partnership with the Illinois Department of Human Services to provide extra funding to families whose children qualify for free or reduced priced meals. We will ask tomorrow that you take steps to verify that all students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals or have a low-income indicator have been entered into the Student Information System (SIS). Some students’ circumstances may have changed, and we need to ensure that all students whose families could benefit from these much-needed funds have the opportunity to access them. Please look for additional instructions tomorrow. 


Many of you have reached out to our agency with questions regarding educator candidates and asking how those pursuits will be affected by the suspension of in-person instruction. I want to assure you that ISBE is pursuing policy changes that will enable program candidates including student teachers, school service personnel, principals, superintendents, and people in subsequent endorsement programs to still receive licensure this spring and summer, despite building closures that may have prohibited classroom experience from being earned, and despite testing center closures statewide that may prevent educators from completing requisite testing.


We will provide official guidance regarding the edTPA, student teaching/internships, clinical hours required for endorsements, and testing timelines as soon as we are able. In the meantime, please assure candidates that ISBE is actively pursuing policy changes to ensure their ability to be licensed this spring/summer and to gain employment this fall is not negatively impacted. 


As many districts become reliant on Zoom in remote learning environments, the company’s CEO Eric Yuan has responded to recent hacking incidents by updating the service’s privacy policies and creating special protections and special features for use by schools. Among these new features is the ability to “lock” the door of your virtual classroom and to remove any unwanted participants. Yuan has pledged to hold weekly chats focused on privacy and security issues and to spend the next few months engineering further improvements. 


We are keenly aware of the challenges that may arise during the implementation of remote learning, especially for students with disabilities. The Illinois Assistive Technology Program (IATP), located in Springfield, helps school districts with special education technology needs and with purchasing assistive technology devices in bulk. To contact IATP, please visit or call Lynette at (217) 522-7985. 


I am also grateful to my staff in the special education department here at ISBE, who have been invited by the organization The Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education to provide training on holding mediation sessions virtually, using Zoom and DocuSign. These unprecedented circumstances come with unexpected challenges, but every time I look around, I see Illinois educators leading the state and leading the country with creative ideas and eagerness to extend help to others. 


Governor Pritzker today launched a new effort to reinforce the message that we should all stay home and stay safe. The campaign is called “All in Illinois,” to remind us that we’re all in this together.  


“I’ve taken virtually every action available to me to protect our residents and slow the spread, and now, our strongest weapon against COVID-19 is you,” the Governor said. “For everyone in Illinois, we as individuals must commit to stay home, stay safe and practice social distancing to stay healthy.” 


You can show your solidarity by updating your Facebook profile photo with the All in Illinois frame image, or by sharing messages on social media using the #AllinIllinois hashtag. If you’d like to download an “All In” sign to display in a window, you can download one here. 


By now, you know how much I live for stories of superheroes (also known as teachers) taking care of students during this scary time. Today, we saw a Facebook post from a mom who has a son in 9th grade at Vernon Hills High School. He’s struggling with algebra, so his teacher, Jennifer Tye, instructed the mom to have her son to go stand in the driveway. Within 10 minutes, Ms. Tye appeared at the end of the driveway (safely more than six feet away) with a white board and markers, to give the freshman a distance algebra lesson.  


Thank you. Keep up the great work. 




Dr. Carmen I. Ayala 
State Superintendent of Education 
Illinois State Board of Education

April 3 - Congress Passes COVID-19 Legislation Affecting Private Schools

Congress Takes Action on Coronavirus

In the month of March, Congress passed legislation responding to the coronavirus crisis in three "phases." The phase 2 and 3 bills in particular included language of interest to private schools.

The following are some highlights of what Congress has passed in recent days, but is by no means an exhaustive list of the programs affecting private schools and other employers.

Education Stabilization Fund: Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed "phase 3" COVID-19 relief legislation carrying an unprecedented $2 trillion price tag, which is larger than the federal government’s entire annual budget for discretionary spending and is roughly one-tenth the size of the American economy. Included in this package is $13.5 billion in grants to states for K-12 schools, part of a broader "Education Stabilization Fund."

The law requires equitable services to be provided to private schools under this program.

The legislation lists twelve categories of permissible uses of the funds hereState Educational Agencies (SEAs) and Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) should not begin making plans for the dispersal of these funds until the US Department of Education releases guidance on implementation of the new law, which is expected in the coming days.

Education Stabilization Fund: Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund

The Education Stabilization Fund in the phase 3 bill, or "CARES Act," also includes $3 billion for governors to provide emergency support to schools most impacted by coronavirus. The law requires equitable services to be provided to private schools under this program as well. USDE guidance is forthcoming, but in the meantime, private schools should work with their State CAPEs to ensure that governors are aware of their needs.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

One piece of the CARES Act that is receiving a tremendous amount of attention is its Paycheck Protection Program. The new law provides $350 billion for federally guaranteed loans to small employers (under 500 employees), nonprofits are eligible. The portion of the loan used for maintaining payroll has the potential to be forgiven.

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA): "You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as April 3, 2020." It is expected that loans will be disbursed on a first come, first served basis. A sample application form can be found here.

Since passage of the CARES Act, private school advocates have argued that Small Business Administration guidance is needed to clarify:

1) Whether use of these loans will lead to recipient of "federal financial assistance" status and the obligations that come with that;

2) Whether these loans can be used to pay the salaries of teachers involved in religious instruction; and

3) In the case of Catholic schools, whether the 500 employee limit will be based on the number of employees at a particular school or the number of employees in the diocese.

On April 2, the Treasury Department released guidance which references certain religious liberty protections (see pages 27-28) and announces that further guidance on religious liberty will be released "promptly."

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)

Congress expanded the already existing Economic Injury Disaster Loan program to include a $10,000 advance. According to the Small Business Administration, "In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. The loan advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application, and this loan advance will not have to be repaid."

In the past, religious organizations have not been eligible for the EIDL program. SBA guidance is needed on this question, as well as whether acceptance of these funds will lead to recipient of "federal financial assistance" status.

This Sherman & Howard one-pager may be of help in distinguishing between the PPL and EIDL programs.

Unemployment Insurance

The CARES Act includes emergency unemployment insurance benefits for individuals affected by the pandemic. If a nonprofit fully participates in its state’s unemployment benefits program, its employees will be eligible for $600 per week in addition to regular unemployment compensation under state law, as well a possible extension of time for provision of unemployment benefits.

If a nonprofit does not pay state unemployment insurance tax, but reimburses the state for unemployment benefits paid upon the termination of an employee, it will be eligible to receive 50% of the amount reimbursed to the state. Its employees will also be eligible for the additional $600 per week, as well as a possible extension of time for provision of unemployment benefits.

If a nonprofit neither pays state unemployment insurance tax nor reimburses the state for unemployment benefits paid upon the termination of an employee, the nonprofit does not receive any benefits under the CARES Act, but its laid-off employees will be eligible to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance from the federal government at no cost to the employer.

Partial Above-the-Line Deduction for Charitable Contributions

The CARES Act permits a deduction of up to $300 for cash contributions to charitable organizations, whether taxpayers itemize their deductions or not.

Emergency Sick Leave and Emergency Family & Medical Leave

On March 18, 2020, the president signed Congress' "phase 2" coronavirus relief bill, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. It creates a national paid sick leave law and expands the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), a CAPE member organization, has posted this very helpful explanation of the new paid sick leave and FMLA provisions.

April 2 - Governor's Order Extending Stay at Home

View the language of


Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced he will extend the state's stay-at-home order until the end of April as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

Read Pritzker's full statement from Tuesday below as provided by the governor's office to NBC5 News:

Good afternoon. I’m joined again today by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and by Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. We also have two special guests with us, Brad Cole, Executive Director of the Illinois Municipal League and Tim Drea, President of the Illinois AFL-CIO.

To the thousands of people across the state who have been joining us every day via livestream – welcome back. And to anyone joining for the first time, thank you for your desire to get factual information on what’s happening here in Illinois. To our reporters – thank you for your commitment to truth and accuracy.

Folks: I know this journey is an extraordinarily difficult one – personally, financially, emotionally. I know that when I signed our Disaster Proclamation on March 9th, when restaurants and bars closed on March 16th, when schools suspended on-site learning on March 17th, when the Stay at Home order took effect on March 21st – each step we have been forced to take by this pandemic has made things more challenging for our residents. The cascading consequences of these steps weigh on me every minute of every day.

But as I’ve said since the beginning, my priority through each and every one of these decisions has been – and continues to be – saving as many people’s lives as possible. That’s the one goal I will put above all others, every time.

Most critically, I have let the science guide our decisions. I’ve relied upon the top medical experts, scientists, public health researchers, epidemiologists, mathematicians and modelers, from the greatest institutions in the world like University of Illinois, Northwestern, University of Chicago, SIU, and others whose guidance on infection rates and potential mortalities and protective measures is second to none.

It is based upon that advice that tomorrow, I will be signing an Executive Order to extend Illinois’ Disaster Proclamation, Stay Home order, and suspension of on-site learning at schools through the end of the month of April.

If we can end these orders earlier, I’ll be the first to tell you when we can start to make strides toward normal again.

But that time is not today, and it’s not April 7th. Illinois has one of the strongest public health systems in the nation – but even so, we aren’t immune to this virus’ ability to push our existing capacity beyond its limits. We need to maintain our course and keep working to flatten the curve.

Here’s what we know: As of March 30, our preliminary reports from hospitals statewide show just 41 percent of our adult ICU beds are “empty” – staffed and ready for immediate patient use, a two percentage point decrease from the moment-in-time numbers I ran you through last week. And 68% of our ventilators are available statewide – a four percentage point drop in a week. That doesn’t mean every hospital has that availability, but collectively that’s what we have across the state.

Statewide, about 35 percent of our total ICU beds are now occupied by COVID patients and about 24 percent of our total vents are occupied by COVID patients. We are still within our capacity, and we are working every day to acquire new vents or convert alternate use vents to increase that capacity – but from all the models that we’ve seen, our greatest risk of hitting capacity isn’t now, but weeks from now. This virus’ spread is growing – so are its risks. We must not let up.

I’ll remind everyone that these interventions don’t work if they’re piecemeal across the state. It was only a few weeks back when we had just a handful of cases all in one county. That’s up to 5994 across 54 counties – and we know that there are even more people out there who have contracted COVID-19 and already recovered without realizing it, or recovered at home and never qualified for a test. That’s true in all 50 states – and that’s the price we all will continue to pay from the lack of early, robust national testing. So we have to stick to the knowledge we have: no community is immune.

To that point, I want to discuss our efforts to keep our Department of Corrections facilities as safe and socially distanced as possible to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Fortunately, DOC is at its smallest population since 1995, with 36,944 individuals. That’s 1,069 fewer prisoners than on February 1. On March 14th, early in the process of my issuing executive orders addressing COVID-19, to reduce the spread of the virus DOC suspended all visits, moved all facilities to administrative quarantine, and ensured access to hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies to all staff and incarcerated individuals. IEMA and IDPH have made multiple deliveries of PPE to the DOC, totaling over 160,000 N95 masks, over 200,000 surgical masks, and tens of thousands of gloves, and DOC is sending an additional shipment to Stateville today. 

DOC has been reviewing the case files of as many low risk offenders as possible for early release during this crisis, with nearly 300 more released as of 1pm today. This has included some of our female inmates who are pregnant or were in our women and babies program, as well as low level offenders at the end of their sentences. All have been thoroughly vetted to make sure there are no histories of violence and particularly domestic violence, and all had homes to return to. I should note that places to reside for exiting offenders are one of our greatest challenges: we need to ensure that each person released in this manner has a place to return to, and those arrangements are more difficult for exiting offenders during these challenging times.

We are working hard to balance the need to free up as much space in our prisons as possible with making sure we are not releasing those who may pose a risk to their communities.  Every step we take with regards to our prison population needs to solve an existing problem – not create a new one.

April 2 - Side by Side Comparison of SBA COVID-19 Loan Programs

April 2 - CAPE letter on CARES Act Guidance


April 2 - What Employers Need to Know About Department of Labor, IRS, and CDC Latest Pronouncements

Fisher Phillips: Legal Alert

An Employer’s Step-By-Step Guide To COVID-19-Related Tax Credits For Paid Leave

The Internal Revenue Service just provided an initial guidance document to assist small- and medium-sized companies with the process of defraying the costs of paid sick leave required under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Of immediate importance to employers, the IRS provided some guidance regarding what information you should receive from an employee in order to substantiate eligibility for the FFCRA tax credits.


CDC’s Updated Return-To-Work Standards May Be Helpful To Businesses

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided updated guidance on when a person with COVID-19 may discontinue home isolation, offering a more flexible standard that could help employers and employees manage absences during this uncertain time.


Top 10 Things Employers Need To Know About DOL’s New COVID-19 Rules

The U.S. Department of Labor issued a new rule yesterday to regulate the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) and the paid leave programs that just became law on April 1, 2020. We’ve digested the 124-page document and picked out the 10 things employers need to know about the new rule. We suggest those unfamiliar with the Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and Emergency FMLA (EFMLA) programs read our summary here first, along with our two subsequent alerts (available here and here) summarizing some of the clarifying guidance released by the agency in the past few weeks.


April 1 - Prepare Now to Apply for a PPP Loan for Your School

Preparing for Paycheck Protection Program Loans (PPP)

We've posted more extensive information on the forgivable Small Business loans generated under the CARES Act here. But we wanted to provide you with summary information and steps you should take ASAP if you are considering applying for one of these loans.


The following is not an exhaustive list as guidance on PPP loans is still forthcoming. However, since applications will be taken starting Friday, April 3, 2020, we have outlined below steps you can take now to gather information you will likely need to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program Loan along with considerations as you decide whether or not to apply.

Prepare Now

Applications can be submitted beginning Friday, April 3rd.

  • You must apply through a financial institution that is approved by the SBA.
    • Contact your bank as soon as possible and ask if they are an approved lender. IF so, let them know that you are interested in applying and ask what the process is (if known) or ask them to put you on their list of people to notify once they have the final application and list of required documents.
    • If they are not an approved lender, contact other banks in your area or visit for a list of lenders.
  • Gather required documentation (and scan it if it’s not already electronic)
    • The SBA has not yet released a list of the documents that will be required to accompany loan applications, but different financial institutions are compiling lists of suggested items. Some of the lists we have seen include:
      • Articles of Incorporation
      • By-laws
      • Documentation supporting who is authorized to enter into agreements on behalf of the applicant (if other than by-laws, articles of incorporation)
      • Board resolution authorizing loan request
      • 941s for the last four quarters (Employer’s Federal Tax Returns)
      • 940 from 2019 (Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment Tax Return)
      • 2019 Forms 1099-MISC for independent contractors
      • Recent payroll register
      • Recent health insurance bill
      • 12-month financials (period ending 2/29/2020 or 3/31/2020)
      • 2 most recent 990s
      • 2 most recent audited financial statements
  • Work with your bookkeeper/accounting/payroll firm to calculate your average monthly payroll as that figure will be used to calculate the maximum loan amount.


The following list is high-level. For more specificity especially with regards to what can and cannot be included in payroll costs and loan forgiveness requirements, consult this resource from the Bipartisan Policy Center

  • Businesses with 500 or fewer employees are eligible to apply.
  • Loans can be used for
    • Payroll costs, including benefits
    • Rent
    • Utilities
    • Interest on mortgage obligations
  • Loans can be forgiven if:
    • You do not use funds for anything other than the above expenses
      • It is likely that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount will be allowed to be non-payroll costs
    • You do not lay off staff or cut wages more than 25% for any employee that made less than $100,000 during 2019
  • Any amount that is not deemed forgivable will have a .5% interest rate, with no payments due for 6 months, though interest will accrue during that period.
  • We still do not have definitive guidance on whether recipients of PPP loans will be considered direct recipients of federal financial assistance, which would trigger various federal laws from which private schools are otherwise exempt, but our best analysis to date is that they will not be..
  • Loans will be first come first served and are expected to be oversubscribed.

For technical assistance consider contacting your area Small Business Development Center.


April 1 - ISBE - Attendance, Student Privacy, Mental Health & ISBE's New Podcast

Dear Colleagues:


We continue our transition into Remote Learning Days, and we appreciate your patience as we work together through issues like attendance, student privacy, and social-emotional health. 


We recognize the importance of checking student engagement/attendance to help monitor which students may need additional support in accessing instruction. School districts have flexibility in determining the best method for measuring student engagement/attendance locally, such as completion of assignments, log ins, emails, phone calls, and other check ins.  


During these unprecedented times, our main concern is the connectedness and care for our students and one another as we maintain continuity of learning. If a child who attended school prior to the suspension of in-person instruction has not been reachable, please attempt to contact a parent/guardian. ISBE encourages districts to account for every student who is enrolled.  


We have updated our comprehensive FAQ with this information on attendance, as well as information on remote learning, Remote Learning Days, transportation, school construction, at  


Remote learning also requires us to take precautions to ensure we protect all students’ personally identifying information and raises many questions about student privacy. For example: can you allow visitors (such as parents) in your virtual classroom? Can you record virtual classes for students who aren’t able to “attend”? Can you conduct a candid parent-teacher conference with a family online while your spouse is nearby and can overhear? These issues and many others are addressed in a recent webinar from the U.S. Department of Education that you can see here.   


Most importantly, we all need to guard the health of our families, both physically and mentally. You can find a wealth of resources to reassure students coping with scary situations, help adults talk to children about COVID-19, and learn to manage anxiety and stress through ISBE’s new mental health webpage


Don’t forget that today is National Census Day! Getting everyone counted in this decennial census is vitally important to determine Illinois’ share of certain federal funding streams as well as the number of votes Illinois gets in the Electoral College and in the U.S. House of Representatives.  


The census also presents us with the perfect opportunity for remote learning lessons in math, civics, social studies, government, history, literature, and even art! We encourage you to be creative and proactive in helping your students and your community understand and appreciate the importance of the census. 


You can get more information about the census in the debut episode of our ISBE podcast. It’s 22 minutes long – just the right length for walking your dog. I hope you enjoy, and I look forward to sharing more through this new avenue of celebrating and supporting your efforts.  




Dr. Carmen I. Ayala 
State Superintendent of Education  
Illinois State Board of Education


April 1 - ISBE - Extension of Remote Learning through April 30 & CARES Act

Dear Colleagues:


Today, Governor JB Pritzker announced that Illinois will continue its suspension of in-person instruction for another 30 days, through April 30. Governor Pritzker addressed students directly today, saying:


“I won't try and tell you that texting and calling each other is the same as hanging out in the hallways or in the lunchroom. And I won't try and tell you that a Zoom prom is the same as a real prom. I won't try and tell you not to be sad about the lost goals and plans that you may have had for March and April. It's okay to be sad. And if you do feel sad or frustrated or angry, whatever you feel, please let yourself feel that way. Don't beat yourself up over being human. And if you're experiencing overwhelming anxiety or you have a friend who is, and you need someone to talk to, there are resources available to you by phone and online through both ISBE and our Department of Human Services, as well as the city of Chicago.”

The Governor went on to encourage students to find ways to be of service in this crisis, as so many of our educators and administrators are modeling for them. I second the Governor in saying that while we are in the midst of a scary and uncertain time, we are also experiencing “a lesson in the fundamental goodness of people.” 


As the Governor announced today, schools are now transitioning from Act of God Days to Remote Learning Days. All these days count toward the school year, and absolutely no days need to be made up. Each district is required to create and implement a Remote Learning Day Plan to ensure all students, including students with disabilities and English Learners, receive instruction and can communicate with their teachers. Remote learning will look different for every district and every school. You can use up to five Remote Learning Planning Days at any time to prepare and refine your approaches to remote learning.


We expect your plans to be tailored to your own districts, but please include a check-in or some method of accurately tracking “attendance.” This data will help teachers gauge which students may need additional outreach or support to engage in learning. Building in flexibility and inclusivity (rather than hard and fast times and deadlines) could encourage student participation and result in more engagement and more accurate records. We will provide further guidance on how to submit this data to ISBE.


I am also very happy to share with you that the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law this past Friday. The purpose of the CARES Act is to provide states with funding to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Local Education Agencies (LEAs), including charter schools that are LEAs, that received an allocation under Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 in fiscal year 2020 are eligible for CARES Act funds. The amount of funds Illinois LEAs will be eligible for is based on the percentage of Title I, Part A allocated to the LEA in FY 2020.


ISBE has developed estimates for LEAs to help you begin to plan at We strongly encourage LEAs to explore using the additional funding to strengthen your infrastructure for remote learning. ISBE also will receive a funding amount as the State Education Agency, which we intend to make available to the LEAs in the greatest need to support students’ access to technology and the internet.


The start date of the program has not yet been determined. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) must release an application within the next 27 days that will allow ISBE to have access to the funds. ISBE will complete the application as soon as it is made available and then submit it for approval by ED. Please find more information about the CARES Act at Please submit any questions about the CARES Act to


Illinois schools have stepped up and faced the many challenges of COVID-19 with generosity, creativity, and a resolute focus on caring for students and communities. You have shown remarkable agility in providing learning opportunities and meals throughout this crisis, giving students much needed connection and stability.


I want to leave you with one example, from Marquardt School District 15, an elementary district in Glendale Heights. Last week, a social worker called one of their families and connected with a mom who had only half a loaf of bread left to feed five children. This mom had no transportation and no way to get to the grocery store. But thanks to the flexibility from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Marquardt district was able to deliver five days’ worth of food and milk to this family.


Sandy Voss, the district’s director of food and nutrition services, who was also ISBE’s 2018 School Nutrition Champion, relayed the story to ISBE in an email. “This is a family that is trying to hold it together without an income, and while trying to continue to educate five children with limited resources and minimal food,” Sandy wrote. “I know this story sadly is not uncommon from what is happening around the state.”


We know it too, and we are committed to doing everything we can so that none of Illinois’ families fall through the cracks. Please stay connected with your students and what’s going on with them at home, so that we can work together to stay in tune with their needs and find the best ways to address them.



Dr. Carmen I. Ayala
State Superintendent of Education
Illinois State Board of Education

April 1 - National COVID19 Trends and FAQ with NAIS Legal Counsel Megan Mann Webinar Resources

Dear Colleagues,
Thank you so much for your interest in the National COVID19 Trends and FAQ with NAIS Legal Counsel Megan Mann series today! Again, please send any questions to and our team will review these and incorporate your questions into future webinars and resource document. There will also be an opportunity submit questions when you register for next week’s session.

NAIS Resources:

  • Sharing Solutions, where you can post and browse school ideas and samples in areas such as distance learning, enrollment, and more
  • How to update your status on Google: Check your status online by doing a Google search and checking for a red status banner (often located in a box on the right side of the screen). If it lists “Closed” or “Temporarily Closed,” we recommend you follow the steps listed here. Ensure that hours are reflected accurately and push for a more accurate representation of the situation, especially during this critical enrollment time.


Other Webinars and Meetups:
  • National COVID-19 Trends & FAQs: A Weekly Update with NAIS Legal Counsel series:
  • NAIS Meetups for Heads of School:


COVID-19 Resource Pages from Law Firms

**This is a non-exhaustive list of all resources available, and we do not endorse any particular counsel. Please consult an attorney directly for advice relating to your specific situation.

Thank you so much again and please do not hesitate to reach out with anything!
Madelyn Swift, Program Manager, Professional Development
National Association of Independent Schools
1129 20th Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC  20036-3425 | (202) 973-9754 |

March 31 - A Letter from the AMS Board of Directors

Dear AMS Community,

As all of us respond to the public health crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the AMS Board of Directors has been confronted by many unprecedented circumstances and, accordingly, has taken many equally unprecedented and difficult actions in response.

Over the past week, we have worked to strengthen the continuity of our organization’s operations to position us for future recovery. Our interim executive director, along with other staff and the board, are continuing to work with all our schools, teacher education programs, and other businesses, and we will persevere through this time of challenge as a united, strong, and compassionate community. We appreciate your forbearance as we all move forward through these uncertain times. We, like you, must make difficult decisions on a daily, sometimes hourly basis.

We are aware of the extraordinary efforts you have made, and are continuing to make, to ensure the success of our students. We are extremely grateful. We know you work long hours and are doing extraordinary work to support online learning, along with other efforts to serve your communities. As members of our AMS family, you are the backbone of the organization and we want you to know that your welfare remains at the center of our concerns as a governing board.

If you are not already aware of our COVID-19 Resources webpage, we invite you to visit it now. We update it daily; you might want to bookmark it. Please pay special attention to the callouts for our daily “AMS Connect Live!” Zoom sessions, and our AMS Connect bulletin boards. Activity on both has been robust, and you’ll want to be sure to be a part of them.

During this time of uncertainty, we all find ourselves on a steep learning curve on many fronts. However, we can assure you that AMS board and staff are tracking and evaluating the latest developments worldwide and we couldn’t be prouder of how everyone in our community has responded during these challenging times.

Every day we see clear evidence of how the AMS community has risen to the challenges set before us. board members and staff know the profound impact you are having in the lives of Montessori children and adult learners, serving as personal examples of leadership and integrity in a time of crisis, and continuing your role as compassionate educators dedicated to the work of Dr. Maria Montessori. Thank you for your continued support of AMS and our students.


The AMS Board of Directors
Munir Shivji, President | Amira D. Mogaji, Vice President

March 31 - CAPE Update

CAPE Email Masthead

Here is the most recent update from CAPE as to the passed federal legislation for COVID-19 relief. Again, thank you to everyone who reached out to your Senators to press for private schools being included in this relief.

March 31 - ISBE - Transportation Reimbursements & Beginning Our Remote Learning Journey Together

Dear Colleagues: 


I know I’m joined by millions of students and families across the state in saying how thankful we are for your hard work and inventiveness over these past two weeks. We now begin a new phase in Illinois education together as we transition from of Act of God Days into remote learning. I am so appreciative of your efforts, and I am committed to the Illinois State Board of Education continuing to serve as a conduit of guidance and support. 


Our Remote Learning Recommendations and latest guidance document are available on the ISBE website at 


Illinois’ schools have found so many creative ways to meet students’ needs during this crisis. For example, Belleville Township High School uses buses to provide WiFi hotspots next to which families can park and download their students’ homework assignments. Lake Louise Elementary teachers recently “rode along” with school buses via a Chromebook set up by the bus door to greet their students (virtually, of course) when families got their meal delivery.  


I am happy to report that ISBE filed emergency rules today to allow all transportation expenditures that support the health and well-being of Illinois prek-12 students – such as costs related to the distribution of food and instructional materials and the use of buses to provide WiFi – to be reimbursed by ISBE’s regular transportation reimbursement formula. These new rules, effective immediately, cover expenses incurred from March 17, 2020, through the end of the 2019-20 school year. Read the full text of the rules at


These emergency rules recognize the unexpected and unprecedented hurdles we currently face – and the generosity and agility of Illinois’ educators in overcoming them. Serve Illinois also recognizes these herculean feats and announced one extraordinary educator as Illinois’ Volunteer of the Week. James DeLoach teaches math and science at York Alternative High School, which serves students at the Cook County Department of Corrections. In addition to teaching, Mr. DeLoach has volunteered at Lakeview Pantry in Chicago to ensure that those in need receive food swiftly and safely. According to Serve Illinois, Mr. DeLoach wears many hats for the food bank; he “organizes inventory, prepares the pantry for distribution by sorting and restocking, packs boxes for distribution, and overall helps to serve clients in need.” Thank you, Mr. DeLoach! 


You all never cease to inspire me.  

I will end tonight’s message with a reminder to please continue to check in with students to make sure they are okay. These connections – over the phone, over text, over email, or on video chat – are more meaningful and important than ever, now that students are out of physical presence and daily line of sight.


Keep up the great work. I look forward to staying connected with you as we embark on our Remote Learning journey together. 



Dr. Carmen I. Ayala 
State Superintendent of Education 
Illinois State Board of Education  

March 31 - Emergency Child Care Stipend Program & Additional COVID-19 Resources

Greetings Early Learning Council Members and Friends, 


We have some new COVID-19 information to share with you and your networks. 

  • The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) through the Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) System is offering funds to assist child care programs that opt to open and provide child care for the children of essential workers. Click here for the Guidelines and Application for Child Care Programs.

  • The Emergency Child Care FAQs were updated with new information on 3/29/20. Answers updated since the original 3/25/20 version are highlighted in red within the document.

As a friendly reminder, all of these resources can be found on the COVID-19 for Early Childhood and Emergency Child Care for Communities & Providers pages on the GOECD website. Please revisit these pages often, as they are being updated daily as additional information becomes available.  

Thank you,


Dr. Jamilah R. Jor'dan

Acting Executive Director

Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD)

March 30 - MPPI Update: Resources

Please note: The following information does not constitute legal advice, medical advice, or an endorsement of any service or product referenced herein.

In the past two weeks, two massive pieces of legislation have been signed into law as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

  1. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was passed on March 18th. It goes into effect April 1, 2020 and remains in effect through December 31, 2020. The two key provisions that impact schools pertain to Paid Sick Leave and Family Medical Leave.
  2. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) was signed into law on March 27th. There are several key provisions that can support and impact schools, child-care centers and their employees including Small Business Administration loans, expanded unemployment benefits, and relief to schools.

Please keep in mind that federal guidance is still forthcoming on the many provisions in these two massive pieces of legislation so information may still change. The resources below reflect the latest information we have been able to compile. We will continue to send regular bulletins as new or clarifying information becomes available. To get these updates straight to your inbox, sign up for our mailing list. Please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions as you dig into this information.

Unemployment Insurance Provisions in the CARES Act

  • The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act was signed into law on March 27. Among its provisions are new Unemployment Insurance programs which are available across varying time frames. This bulletin from the National Employment Law Project lays out the details for each of these provisions.
  • The Bipartisan Policy Center and Committee for Economic Development have issued a brief regarding Unemployment Relief in the CARES Act. Even though the CARES Act is authorizing federal funds to support unemployment relief, it’s important to note that unemployment compensation programs are state run and these federal funds will be administered by each state. The BPC brief notes "Because each state operates its own unemployment compensation program, the unemployment compensation changes under the CARES Act will require each state (or territory) to enter into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor in order to receive federal funding to both administer the benefits and pay for the federal portion of the benefits...While it is likely, as unemployment claims increase, that all states will opt-in to the additional unemployment assistance, it is not required. Because state agreements may be submitted and approved at different times, and state capacity to implement the changes may differ, it is very likely that state implementation will vary. To compensate for staggered implementation, payment of benefits will be retroactive.”
  • An important note for non-profits: Non-profits have the option of paying into their state's unemployment on a regular basis, or  reimbursing the state for amounts paid to a former employee who is receiving unemployment. If your school is a non-profit and has chosen to be a reimbursable employer, the CARES Act contains a provision through which reimbursable employers can be reimbursed for half of the amounts paid to state unemployment between March 13, 2020, and December 31, 2020.

Updated Information on Sick Leave and FMLA Provisions in the Families First Coronavirus Act

  • DOL Required Posting: Employers covered by these provisions (1-499 employees) will be required to post (and distribute to remote workers) this notification from the Department of Labor. 
  • The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) recently held a webinar regarding these provisions along with the provisions of the CARES Act, and the slide deck from the presentation is available here. It contains summary information as well as answers to several frequently asked questions.
  • For those who have referenced the Fisher Phillips webinar regarding Emergency Sick Leave and FMLA provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Act, there is an updated slide deck. Fisher Phillips issued the following notice along with the updated slide deck: “Thank you for attending our webinar, Families First Coronavirus Response Act:  Emergency Paid Sick Leave And Emergency FMLA For Private Schools, on March 26, 2020.  After producing the webinar, the Department of Labor issued guidance on some of the gray areas in the law that we mentioned on the webinar.  Given that, we have modified the slides to reflect these changes…You should use these slides and not the recorded version of the webinar that you may have received from our firm as you make decisions about the applicability of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Law and/or the Emergency FMLA.” 

March 30 - Emergency Child Care Stipend Program

March 30, 2020

In response to the unprecedented public health emergency that Illinois is facing as a result of the spread of COVID-19, Governor Pritzker is committed to supporting child care providers offering emergency child care to children of Essential Workers. The State is mindful that child care is a critical emergency service that is necessary for Essential Workers.  

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) through the Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) System is offering one-time stipends to help defray additional costs that may be incurred by child care programs that opt to open and provide child care for the children of Essential Workers. We want to stress that these services should be provided only when Essential Workers have no other options available. The goal is to practice social distancing and for children to stay at home whenever possible.  

Please review the attached Guidelines, Frequently Asked Questions, and Application in its entirety.  Read through the documents fully before asking questions. After you have read the documents, if you have questions contact your local Child Care Resource & Referral Agency  

We are committed to supporting our child care providers through this health emergency, and appreciate all that you are doing to support children, families and your communities.

Linda Saterfield, Interim Associate Director, Illinois Department of Human Services

March 30 - Families First Coronavirus Response Act Information for Employees

March 27 -  ISBE - Remote Learning Days Begin March 31

Sending on behalf of State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala:


Dear Colleagues:


Fridays used to be the end of the week with nothing else on our school schedules except maybe a football game or a choir concert. But as we all know, we’re rowing in uncharted waters, and today, even though it’s Friday, we have some big updates to share with you. 


I have declared that Remote Learning Days will begin for schools statewide on March 31 and continue until in-person instruction can resume. Please continue to send any questions you have to  


During Remote Learning Days, schools may implement either an E-Learning Plan or a Remote Learning Day Plan that provides students with instruction and access to educators through whatever means possible. Schools may use up to five Remote Learning Planning Days at any time after March 30 to work on Remote Learning Day Plans in partnership with their collective bargaining units. 


Remote Learning Days, Remote Learning Planning Days, and Act of God Days count as actual student attendance days. All of these days count toward the minimum length of the school year and absolutely do not need to be made up. View ISBE’s emergency rules for Remote Learning Days at 


Over the past week, ISBE convened a Remote Learning Advisory Group of teachers, students, paraprofessionals, related service personnel, principals, and district and regional superintendents to make recommendations to support educators, students, and families during Remote Learning Days. The recommendations provide overarching best practices for instruction, grading, communication, social-emotional needs, content selection and delivery, family engagement, and other important concerns, as well as specific guidance for different grade bands, English Learners, and students with disabilities. 


I am deeply grateful to the 63 members of our Remote Learning Advisory Group for giving their time and their expertise to help ISBE and schools across the state navigate a new way of teaching, learning, and caring for our students. View the Remote Learning Recommendations at  


The Remote Learning Recommendations strongly encourage that school districts’ local grading policies during Remote Learning Days embrace the principle of “no educational harm to any child” and that school districts adopt grading models of pass or incomplete.  


The Recommendations state that “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.” 


ISBE has partnered with other agencies and advocates to provide additional clarity on other key topics.  


ISBE released joint guidance with the Illinois Board of Higher Education and Illinois Community College Board to advise secondary and postsecondary institutions in Illinois on supporting and accommodating students who are enrolled in dual credit courses during the suspension of in-person instruction. View this guidance at 


ISBE also met with the Illinois Federation of Teachers, Illinois Education Association, Illinois Association of School Administrators, and Illinois Principals Association to update our joint guidance regarding pay and work at 


Additionally, Governor JB Pritzker’s Executive Order 2020-15, issued today, suspends state assessments for spring 2020, including the Constitution exam. This action officially ends assessment activity statewide for the Illinois Assessment of Readiness, Illinois Science Assessment, SAT, and Dynamic Learning Maps-Alternate Assessment for the 2019-20 school year.


We recognize that the free SAT provided by the state is the only opportunity many students get to take a college entrance exam. ISBE is working with the College Board on developing options to allow current 11th grade students to take the SAT in the fall.  


ISBE has refreshed its comprehensive guidance document with all of this information, as well as updated guidance on driver’s education, nutrition, flexibility in expending grant funds, and Early Childhood Block Grant recipients providing child care to the children of essential workers. View the comprehensive guidance at 


I know this is not the way that any of us envisioned this school year going. But I continue to be awed by the phenomenal creativity, resilience, empathy, and problem-solving prowess of Illinois’ educators, administrators, and students. The stories I see every day on social media, in the news, and in my email show me just how focused our educators are on supporting our children in this time of crisis.  


A story that appeared this week in a Springfield newspaper highlighted the ways teachers from preK to AP calculus are engaging with their students through remote learning. One middle school teacher even called every family on the phone to check in. Her name happens to be Jill Friday. 


Like you, we are eager for life to return to normal, but keeping our communities safe must be our shared priority at this time. I am confident we will get through this together. And once this pandemic is past, we will certainly savor football games, choir concerts, and Fridays even more. 




Dr. Carmen I. Ayala 
State Superintendent of Education 
Illinois State Board of Education 

March 30 - UPDATED Slides Families First Coronavirus Response Act Emergency Paid Sick Leave And Emergency FMLA For Private Schools

(Please note: The following information does not constitute legal advice, medical advice, or an endorsement of any service or product referenced herein.)


Fisher Phillips has updated the information on this slide show. See below:


Thank you for attending our webinar, Families First Coronavirus Response Act:  Emergency Paid Sick Leave And Emergency FMLA For Private Schools, on March 26, 2020.  After producing the webinar, the Department of Labor issued guidance on some of the gray areas in the law that we mentioned on the webinar.  Given that, we have modified the slides to reflect these changes.  The modified slides are attached.  You should use these slides and not the recorded version of the webinar that you may have received from our firm as you make decisions about the applicability of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Law and/or the Emergency FMLA.  


We encourage you to continue watching for updates from the DOL and our firm on these and other related laws.  Subscribe to Fisher Phillips’ alert system (click link) to gather the most up-to-date information.

March 27 - MPPI: Webinar Recording Available on Recent Legislation

What do the Emergency Sick Leave and

Emergency Family Medical Leave Provisions of the

Families First Coronavirus Response Act Mean for My School?

Please note: The following information does not constitute legal advice, medical advice, or an endorsement of any service or product referenced herein.

Many of you are wondering how recent legislation will affect your school. The law firm of Fisher Phillips held a webinar on March 26 which provides details on the new laws obligating employers to provide Emergency Sick Leave and Emergency FMLA. They have kindly provided a recording of the webinar which we are passing on to you.

To get resources like this delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

We suggest you listen to the complete webinar but have provided a few key points below:

Emergency Paid Sick Leave

  • Applies to employers with less than 500 employees

  • Goes into effect April 1, 2020

  • Qualifying employees can receive up to 80 hours of sick pay

  • Reasons for taking sick leave must be related to COVID-19 (eg quarantine, advised not to work due to being a high risk individual, symptomatic, caring for children if school/child-care is closed etc.)

  • The cap on sick pay varies depending on the reason it is needed (eg sick vs caring for children)

  • Employers can take a credit against their payroll taxes to cover the sick leave pay

Emergency FMLA

  • Applies to employers with less than 500 employees

  • Goes into effect April 1, 2020

  • Payments begin after 10 days and are equal to 2/3 of pay for 12 weeks with a cap of $200 per day and $10,000 aggregate.

  • Employers can take a credit against their payroll taxes to cover the FMLA payments

Note that guidance has not yet been issued on either of these provisions. Until guidance is released, attorneys and HR professionals are using their best judgment to interpret these laws and that information is all subject to change once guidance is released.

Fisher Phillips recommends that employers create a form that

  • outlines the various types of leave that are available to their employees

  • requests that they provide evidence as to eligibility

  • gives them a way to indicate if they would want to use accumulated PTO to supplement what they are eligible for through these emergency programs.

Fisher Phillips has a nationwide Comprehensive and Updated FAQs for Employers on the COVID-19 Coronavirus, our FP Resource Center For Employers, and other resources, developed to assist businesses on “non-essential” designations and related issues by visiting


March 26 - ISBE - Caring for Students and Each Other

Dear Colleagues:


Today’s message focuses on caring for our students and caring for each other during this time of crisis. So many educators use the phrase, “Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”


East St. Louis District 189 put this principle into practice by establishing a Helpline that students can text at any time to reach the district’s Student Support Staff. This helpline connects students to the kind of support they may normally receive from their school social worker, nurse, or homeless outreach worker. The district posted the number on social media, inviting students to connect if they’re kicked out of their home or just worried about a friend.


These kinds of connections are more important than ever, as students are no longer in our daily line of sight. I encourage teachers to check in with students periodically in whatever way you can. We need to look out for our most vulnerable children, especially in times of crisis.


To help us take care of each other, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. The U.S. Department of Labor has created a new poster outlining these policies, which I encourage you to share with your staff.


Thank you for everything you are doing to keep our students – and yourselves – engaged, healthy, and safe.




Dr. Carmen I Ayala
State Superintendent of Education
Illinois State Board of Education

March 26 - For License Exempt Montessori Programs Interested in Providing Emergency Care

We have new guidance for DCFS license exempt programs considering offering emergency care for essential worker families, see PDF below. 

Also this page from IL GOECD has been updated with detailed information for homes, centers, and license exempt centers who wish to remain open and/or reopen as an emergency child care option.

March 25 - ISBE - IWAS, No Kid Hungry Grants, and Your Amazing Efforts

Dear Colleagues:  


The theme in my communications with agency staff has been, “This is not business as usual.” We want to do everything we can to ensure you can focus on the critical work of feeding and educating students. To that end, we have instituted a moratorium on all ISBE Web Application Security (IWAS) notifications. We will review all pending IWAS data collections and communications over the next few days and move forward only with those that are deemed essential at this time. Thank you for your patience as we work on this. 


In exciting food news, we have learned that No Kid Hungry is offering $1 million in emergency grants, available immediately, for schools and community organizations who are finding innovative ways to make sure children have access to the meals they need. This national advocacy organization is supporting local efforts like home-delivered meals, grab-and-go programs, school and community pantries, backpack programs, and other steps to help reach children and families who have lost their access to meals. If you need funding to support your nutrition efforts, please submit your interest at


We can all take inspiration from Peoria Public Schools, which has handed out more than 21,000 meals since March 17, including barbecue, crispy chicken, and other sandwiches that can either be eaten cold or taken home and heated up. I know the students appreciate those tasty options. 


I am also happy to report that at least two more school districts have stepped up to share personal protective equipment to keep health care workers on front lines safe while they combat COVID-19. Community High School District 99 in Downers Grove delivered respirators, Tyvek suits, goggles, and approximately 15,000 pairs of gloves to Good Samaritan Hospital today. And a nurse Round Lake Area Schools Community Unit School District 116 donated 300 pairs of goggles, 29 boxes of surgical gloves, 150 rubberized dissection aprons to Advocate Lutheran General Children's Hospital. If your school or Career and Technical Education program has PPE to spare, please contact 


As schools across the state are engaging in remote learning, student journalists are showing us the sky truly is the limit. Geneva Community High School students lit up our morning here at ISBE with their amazing and totally remotely produced newscast! I also enjoyed this uplifting news report from Ethan Crabtree, a second grader from Ball-Chatham School District. 


Educators across the state are also finding creative ways to remind their students how much they’re missed. O’Fallon Township High School staff collaborated to create a lovely video full of messages to their students. And Chicago Hope Academy Principal Ike Muzikowski showed off his soccer skills, dance moves, piano chops, singing voice, and most of all, his exquisitely vivid imagination in this incredible solo performance video. 


Please keep sharing your talents and your hearts with your students and with us. It is appreciated more than you can imagine. 




Dr. Carmen I. Ayala 
State Superintendent of Education 

Illinois State Board of Education 

CAPE Email Masthead

Here is the most recent update from CAPE as to the passed and currently posed federal legislation for COVID-19 relief. Note finding for loans to small businesses for payroll. Thank you to everyone who reached out to your Senators to press for private schools being included in this relief.

COVID-19: Emergency Child Care Resources for Communities & Providers

From the Illinois Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development



Governor Pritzker, his staff, his Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD), and the leadership at the Illinois Departments of Human Services (IDHS) and Children and Family Services (DCFS) know that child care is always a critical work support for families. That is true even now as our state enters a "stay at home" strategy to slow the spread of COVID-19. 


Per Governor Pritzker's Executive Order on Friday, March 20, 2020, all child care programs across the state were ordered to close. Where possible, children should be kept at home. However, we know that is not an option for some of our essential workers, and we are working with DCFS, DHS, and partners throughout the state to develop child care options for these families.


We have developed a COVID-19: Emergency Child Care for Communities & Providers webpage to connect you with information to understand your options for offering and accessing child care for essential workers within your community during this pandemic. Through this page you can learn how child care programs can apply to become an Emergency Child Care Center, how child care homes can operate as license-exempt homes serving six or fewer children, and how communities can ensure that parents are connected to the resources they need. This information and webpage can also be found under the For Families and Children resource page of our state COVID-19 response site,


If you are a mayor, a community leader, a locally elected official, a school district representative, essential worker, or someone working to ensure child care options for essential workers in your community, please visit our site, share the link with others, and come back often, as we will continue to update and modify the page as more resources become available.


We're in this together, 

Dr. Jamilah R. Jor'dan

Acting Executive Director

Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD)

Good morning Early Learning Council Members and Friends, 


We hope you and yours are staying healthy during this unprecedented public health crisis. GOECD, IDHS, DCFS, INCCRRA, and other partners throughout the state have developed several important resources we ask that you please share with your networks. 


For essential workers seeking child care:

  • A dedicated help line has been created so Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCR&Rs) can help connect essential worker families to emergency child care. Essential worker families should call toll-free (888) 228-1146. The helpline will be available from 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM Monday through Friday to answer calls, but callers will be able to leave a message 24 hours a day.  
  • Click here and here for resources to help promote the helpline.   
  • To find emergency child care, essential workers are encouraged to visit  COVID-19 Emergency Provider Search

For individuals who want to volunteer to support emergency child care: 

  • Qualified volunteers who are willing to temporarily work in an Emergency Child Care home or center should complete an Emergency Child Care Staffing Survey. They will be contacted in case there is a need in their area. 

For child care providers who want to offer emergency child care to essential workers:

  • The COVID-19: Emergency Child Care for Communities & Providers webpage contains a listing of important resources for child care providers and is being updated daily with guidance, frequently asked questions, and other materials.
  • The COVID-19 for Early Childhood webpage contains a dated list of updates from Illinois state agencies, as well as resources for Head Start/Early Head Start programs and resources for families with young children.  


 Thank you!


Dr. Jamilah R. Jor'dan

Acting Executive Director

Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD)

CAPE Email Masthead

Contact Congress on COVID-19 Relief
March 24, 2020

Dear Friends of Religious and Independent Schools,


The US Senate is currently considering a coronavirus relief package that includes aid to K-12 schools.  Currently, there is language in the legislation allowing non-public schools to receive relief. However, it appears that some are attempting to remove this language.


Please use CAPE's Legislative Action Center to urge senators to make sure that private schools are not excluded from Congress' COVID-19 relief package.


Thank you for your help.


Michael Schuttloffel

Illinois Unemployment Information

Please note: The following information does not constitute legal advice, medical advice, or an endorsement of any service or product referenced herein.

We are sharing basic information about unemployment insurance and claims as they stand in Illinois today. The aid package being put through the federal legislature today may include more options and availability but these two links may help you with where your school stands right now.


First here is a link to the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Law Handbook from the IDES. Section IV is specifically about not for profit organizations.


Second, here is the current COVID-19 page on unemployment benefits.

Again, these parameters may change with the new aid package, but this is where we stand in Illinois as of now.

Child Care Providers and Emergency Operations

If you are providing emergency childcare services for essential workers, please read the following:

In response to the unprecedented public health emergency that Illinois is facing as a result of the spread of COVID-19, Governor Pritzker is committed to supporting child care providers offering emergency child care to children of essential workers. The State is mindful that child care is a critical emergency service that is necessary for essential workers.

The Child Care Resource and Referral System is collecting information from programs (centers and homes) that are offering emergency child care for children of essential workers, to connect families needing care, to available care.

If your program is open and offering care to children of essential workers, please use this link to let us know.

We want to stress that these services should be provided only when essential workers have no other options available. The goal is still to practice social distancing and to shelter-in place whenever possible.

The CCR&R System is committed to supporting our child care providers through this health emergency, and appreciate all that you are doing to support children, families and your communities.

Interim Recommended Guidance1 for Preventing Spread of COVID-19 in Childcare/Daycare Centers

3/18/2020 - Subject to Change

Click to view the original PDF with the information below

I. Background

SARS-CoV-2 is a novel coronavirus that causes mild to severe respiratory illness (abbreviated as COVID-19). Public health experts continue to learn about SARS-CoV-2 however, based on current data, the primary mode of spread appears to be from an infected person to close contacts (those within about six feet) via respiratory droplets. Transmission of SAR-CoV-2 to persons from surfaces contaminated with the virus has not been documented, but evidence suggests that SARS- CoV-2 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces.

Appropriate steps to prevent spread of COVID-19 in childcare/daycare centers will vary based on the level of COVID-19 community transmission and presence of COVID-19 cases within the facility. Guidance provided in this document are best practices for preventing spread of all viral respiratory illnesses. However, when there are high levels of COVID-19 community transmission in your community, these practices may not be sufficient to prevent transmission in the childcare/daycare center environment and closure by local or state officials may be recommended.

II. Purpose

This guidance provides recommendations for childcare/day care centers while remaining operational.

III. Definitions


Clinical features are fever or signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illnesses. Symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Human coronaviruses can sometimes cause lower-respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis.


Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

  • Respiratory droplets formed when the infected person coughs or sneezes;
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands;
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands; and
  • Rarely, fecal contamination.


The following can help prevent the spread of coronaviruses and protect yourself, staff and the children from becoming infected:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or at least 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer solution, upon entering or leaving facility and before and after eating;
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands; and
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
There are currently no vaccines to protect against human coronavirus infection.

II. Preventative Actions for the introduction of respiratory germs INTO your facility

  • Post signs outside the entrance restricting entry to anyone with symptoms of illness/respiratory infection.
  • Daycare staff should be checked for fever before entering the facility at the beginning of their reported work period and maintain records of monitoring.
  • Ensure sick leave policies allow employees to stay home if they have symptoms of respiratory infection.
  • Monitor children daily for signs/symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Exclude any staff or child with symptoms of COVID-19 from the daycare setting.
  • Depending on the facility plan, stagger drop-off and pick-up times to avoid overcrowding of children and parents/guardians in confined spaces.
  • Limit parents/guardians to one per child during drop-off and pick-up.
  • No outside visitors should be allowed in the daycare for activities, regardless of their security clearance. However, this does not apply to maintenance/repair workers. For these persons, a log shall be maintained including date/time, name, phone number/cell number and email.
  • Develop a communication plan with parents and staff in the event a COVID-19 case occurs in a staff or child.
  • Coordinate with your local health department; inform them of COVID-19 cases reported in your childcare or daycare center and stay informed of local developments.

III. Preventative Actions for the spread of respiratory germs WITHIN your facility

  • Promptly isolate any staff or child with symptoms of COVID-19, including use of a procedure mask (as tolerated by children).
    • If the child cannot tolerate a face mask, the staff assigned to that child should wear the facemask.
    • Limit the staff to 1:1 care for children who have been isolated.
    • Follow childcare/daycare facility procedures on notifying parent/guardian.
    • Educate parent/guardian on contacting their family physician.
    • Clean/disinfect area after the child leaves.
  • Cohort children and daycare staff. Children should be kept in the same group with same staff every day including meal, snack, rest and play periods. Limit groups/classes to 10 or less.
  • Post signs throughout the facility describing ways to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Monitor and enforce hand hygiene among staff and children.
  • Avoid shaking hands as a social greeting.
  • Ensure employees clean their hands according to CDC guidelines, including before and after contact with members, and after contact with contaminated surfaces or equipment.
  • Put alcohol-based hand rub in every room (ideally both inside and outside of the room).
  • Teach and reinforce healthy hygiene as is age appropriate (covering coughs/sneezes, disposing of tissues, handwashing, keep fingers away from eyes, nose and mouth).
  • Make sure tissues are available and any sink is well-stocked with soap and paper towels for hand washing.
  • Position trash cans for easier discarding of tissues and paper towels for staff and children.
  • Intensify cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched items, including doorknobs, toys, phones, keyboards, mice and other items identified as frequently handled.
  • Cancel or postpone all non-critical gatherings and events.
  • Increase ventilation by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning

II. Preventative Actions for Vulnerable Populations

Social distancing actions are taken to restrict when and where people can gather to stop or slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID‐19) or other infectious diseases in communities. Social distancing actions include limiting large groups of people coming together, closing buildings or canceling events. Staff and parents/guardians over the age of 60 years, especially if they have 

serious medical conditions, and any children with serious underlying medical conditions, may wish to avoid a congregate setting such as a childcare or daycare center.

III. Contingency Planning

  • Consider reducing open hours or maximum capacity. Check the IDPH and CDC websites daily for updated guidance to reduce spread of COVID-19. 

IV. Closure of Childcare Facilities

A childcare facility might need to implement short-term closure procedures if an infected person has been in a childcare facility. If this happens, IDPH recommends the following procedures regardless of the level of transmission in the community.
  • Upon learning of a COVID-19 case in someone who has been in the childcare facility, immediately notify the local health department. The local health department will help the childcare facility administrators determine a course of action for the childcare program.
  • Dismiss students and most staff for a minimum of 2-5 days.
    • This initial short-term dismissal allows time for the local health department to assess the current COVID-19 situation and to work with facility administrators to determine appropriate next steps, including whether an extended dismissal duration is needed to stop or slow further spread of COVID-19.
    • This also allows for a thorough cleaning and disinfection of the facility.
      • Close off areas used by the individual(s) with COVID-19 and wait as long as practical before beginning cleaning and disinfection to minimize potential for exposure to respiratory droplets. If possible, wait up to 24 hours before beginning cleaning and disinfection. Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area.
      • Use a cleaning and disinfection product that is effective against SARS-Co-V-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and use according to the product label instructions. More information is available here: ncov/community/organizations/cleaning-disinfection.html
    • The local health department should assist the childcare facility in development of messaging to communicate with parents/guardians and staff about the temporary closure of the facility and potential COVID-19 exposures.
    • Childcare facilities who offer essential medical or social service programs should consider alternative methods for providing these services. Coordination with other agencies and providers may be indicated to determine how best to accommodate the needs of high-risk children and families.
    • Local health department recommendations for the duration of childcare facility dismissals will be made on a case-by-case basis using the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 and the specific cases in the community.

V. Resources

CDC What to do if you are sick

CDC When and How to Wash Your Hands

CDC People At-risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19

CDC Print Resources

CDC K-12 Schools and Childcare Programs FAQs

CDC Workplace and School Guidance

Frequently Asked Questions about Isolation and Quarantine

Note: Isolation and quarantine are different. These two terms are not interchangeable. Isolation refers to the separation of sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. Quarantine refers to the separation of asymptomatic people who were exposed to a contagious disease in case they become sick.

Q. What if a parent/guardian or other household member of a child or staff member is placed in isolation?

A. In the event a parent/guardian or other household member of a child in your program is diagnosed with COVID-19 and has been told to isolate, the individual in isolation cannot enter the childcare program for any reason. They must utilize an emergency contact authorized by the parent to come pick up the child. If the child has been in close contact with the individual with COVID-19 in the 14 days prior to the household member’s symptom onset, the child is considered a contact and cannot return to the childcare program for the duration of the child’s quarantine period (14 days after the last exposure to the individual with COVID-19).

Staff members who are contacts to COVID-19 cases are to be quarantined. See the question below regarding staff members in quarantine.

Q. What if a parent/guardian or other household member of a child or staff member is quarantined?

If the parent/guardian or other household contact has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and doesn’t have any symptoms of respiratory disease but is being quarantined as a precautionary measure, childcare staff should walk out or deliver the child to the parent/guardian outside the childcare building.   The child can return to the childcare program if the quarantined individual remains asymptomatic. If the quarantined individual develops any COVID-19 symptoms, the child should be excluded from childcare for 14 days after the last day the household member had a fever .

Q. What if a child is quarantined?

A. Children who have been quarantined through exposure to the virus must not attend programs for the duration of the quarantine period.

Q. What if a staff person at a childcare program is quarantined?

A. If a staff member has been exposed to the virus and has self-quarantined but has not tested positive, the individual must not report to work during the quarantine period (usually 14 days after exposure). The center may continue to operate unless notified otherwise by the local health department or IDPH.

Q. What if a child or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19 infection?

A. If a child or staff member has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is suspected of having a COVID-19-like illness, the ill person cannot attend childcare or work for the duration of their isolation period. Promptly notify your local health department. Notification should be sent to parents/guardians of attendees and all staff. The need for closure of the facility will be determined on a case-by-case basis in coordination with local health officials. At a minimum, the facility may need to close temporarily for thorough cleaning and disinfection of the facility. You will receive guidance from your local health department with specific directions.

Q. What if a household member of a home-based provider is quarantined or isolated due to COVID-19?

A. The program must not operate for the duration of the quarantine or isolation period, whichever applies.

Q. If our childcare facility is required to close temporarily because of a COVID-19 case in a staff member or an attendee, how long will it be closed?

A. Each situation must be assessed on a case-by-case basis, but initially, if a student or staff member attended school before being confirmed as having COVID-19, the childcare center may need to close for 2-5 days. This initial short-term dismissal allows time for the local public health officials assess the COVID-19 situation impacting the childcare center and for custodial staff to clean and disinfect the affected facilities. The local department and facility administrators will work together to determine appropriate next steps, including whether a longer period of closure is needed to stop or slow further spread of COVID-19.

Webinar Recording - COVID-19: Child Care Business Practices and Resources

The Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development held a webinar yesterday entitled COVID-19: Child Care Business Practices and Resources. A link to the webinar is available here

ISBE - Statewide Assessment & Accountability Waiver Application and Other COVID-19 Updates

Dear Colleagues: 


I want to begin with a special shout-out to Indian Valley Vocational Center in Sandwich. The school serves students from 10 districts and offers 18 different programs, including programs that educate future workers in health occupations, sports medicine, law enforcement, fire science, and emergency medical services. Last Friday, when ISBE put out a call for schools and Career and Technical Education programs to donate facemasks and gloves to the Illinois Department of Public Health, IVVC truly stepped up 


Joe Barbic, the director of IVVC, sent an email to instructors that evening, and they showed up at the school early Saturday morning to gather all the supplies they had in their classrooms. IVVC ended up donating 8,500 masks and 10,000 gloves to the county health department one of the state’s hardest-hit areas, Will County.  


Can your school or CTE program step up? Health care workers on the frontlines of our state’s response to COVID-19 need N95 masks, Nitrile gloves, indirect vent protective goggles and facemasks, and isolation gowns. If you can help, please email 


I also have an update that many of you have been eagerly awaiting: ISBE has submitted a waiver application to the U.S. Department of Education to:  

  • Waive all federally required assessments in the 2019-20 school year;   
  • Waive the requirement to provide summative designations and identify schools for targeted and comprehensive support in the 2019-20 school year; and 
  • Waive the requirement to report on accountability indicators on the 2019-20 school year Report Card. 


Once the waiver is approved, any school that is currently identified for comprehensive or targeted support in the 2019-20 school year will maintain that identification status in the 2020-21 school year and continue to receive supports and interventions consistent with the school’s support and improvement plan in the 2020-21 school year.  


View Illinois’ waiver application online at


ISBE is also seeking relief from assessment-related requirements in state statute to secure complete assurance that state assessments do not need to be administered in the 2019-20 school year.   

ISBE has included this information in our updated comprehensive guidance at


And for more good news, schools can volunteer to provide child care for low-income essential workers without obtaining an emergency license. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Governor last Friday closed child care centers statewide. But because many essential workers need child care, the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) is allowing schools to re-open as emergency child care centers without a visit from DCFS and without needing to obtain a license. For more information, visit  


ISBE is continuing to plan for the days beyond March 30. Today, we met with a diverse group of educators from across Illinois (virtually, of course) to begin developing recommendations about instruction and grading in a remote learning environment. The advisory group includes teachers, paraprofessionals, related service personnel, principals, district and regional superintendents, and students. Many group members bring extensive special education and multilingual education experience and expertise. We have established a solid foundation on the guidance document and are on track to release it this week. 


Which reminds me, if your public school district has not completed our remote learning survey at the bottom of, please do so as soon as possible. This feedback helps us monitor how teaching and learning is happening while in-person instruction is suspended.  


Throughout the past several weeks, the thing I have appreciated most is the mindset with which Illinois schools are accommodating this unexpected and unprecedented upheaval. I noticed that Crete-Monee District 201 is providing free meals to all students, regardless of income, plus budget-friendly meals for the general public. At the bottom of the district’s flyer was the simple phrase, “We look forward to serving you.” I think that sums up the attitude of all of us at ISBE, as well as all the incredible educators around the state. Thank you.




Dr. Carmen I. Ayala 
State Superintendent of Education 
Illinois State Board of Education 


View this message online at

IL GOECD COVID-19: Emergency Child Care Resources for Communities & Providers



Governor Pritzker, his staff, his Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD), and the leadership at the Illinois Departments of Human Services (IDHS) and Children and Family Services (DCFS) know that child care is always a critical work support for families. That is true even now as our state enters a "stay at home" strategy to slow the spread of COVID-19. 


Per Governor Pritzker's Executive Order on Friday, March 20, 2020, all child care programs across the state were ordered to close. Where possible, children should be kept at home. However, we know that is not an option for some of our essential workers, and we are working with DCFS, DHS, and partners throughout the state to develop child care options for these families.


We have developed a COVID-19: Emergency Child Care for Communities & Providers webpage to connect you with information to understand your options for offering and accessing child care for essential workers within your community during this pandemic. Through this page you can learn how child care programs can apply to become an Emergency Child Care Center, how child care homes can operate as license-exempt homes serving six or fewer children, and how communities can ensure that parents are connected to the resources they need. This information and webpage can also be found under the For Families and Children resource page of our state COVID-19 response site,


If you are a mayor, a community leader, a locally elected official, a school district representative, essential worker, or someone working to ensure child care options for essential workers in your community, please visit our site, share the link with others, and come back often, as we will continue to update and modify the page as more resources become available.


We're in this together, 

Dr. Jamilah R. Jor'dan

Acting Executive Director

Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD)

Federal Small Business Information and Loan Assistance

SBA assistance info:

SBA Disaster loans:

From AMS: COVID-19 Resources for Our Community

Dear Colleagues,

The catastrophic developments with COVID-19, including its designation as a pandemic more than a week ago, have required us to make drastic shifts in our lives.

As challenging as our days are, it is vitally important to remember that we are each an integral part of a caring and compassionate community—and together we can discover new ways to keep ourselves, and those whom we serve, safe and healthy.

To this end, below are some resources we hope will be helpful to you in your schools and programs. We will be sharing more in the coming days, with items of special interest for both teachers and administrators, so please keep your eyes on your inbox.

AMS Connect: The amount of activity we’ve been seeing on our online messaging platform, particularly in the Heads of Schools Community, has been unprecedented. Join your peers to read about—and share—thoughts about teacher salaries and tuition during school closures, plans and resources for distance learning, and more. And, in the Teachers Community, join lively discussions about online learning and Montessori in the home. Member login required. (Use the same username and password you use when logging in to the main AMS website.)

AMS Connect Live! via Zoom: Teachers, let’s connect on Zoom to encourage one another and share ideas about applying Montessori principles to our work doing during these challenging days of COVID-19. We’ll break out into small groups so that you can interact with peers in your program level. Facilitated by AMS’s Joshua Shanklin, along with other veteran teachers.

Live Webinar: “Managing Your School Through the Pandemic.” Join us Monday, March 23, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM ET, for a FREE live webinar. Presented by our friends at Firestorm Crisis Management Solutions, this webinar is open to the entire Montessori community, but you must register.

On-Demand Webinar: “Managing Communicable Illness.” If you missed our live webinar, or would like to see it again, you can now watch a recording and avail yourself of related handouts. Member login required.

COVID-19 Resources for Schools Webpage: Our new webpage, with ideas for remote learning and much more, 
will go live Tuesday, March 24. There will be a callout to it on our homepage in the Connect with Our Community section (beneath the 4 colorful boxes), or, starting Tuesday, just type COVID in the search function.

Please be assured that while our physical offices are currently closed—AMS staff are working from home—systems are in place so that we can continue to provide uninterrupted, robust service to you. If you have questions, concerns, or ideas to share—or even just want to let us know how you are—please do not hesitate to get in touch with me. You are the reason we do what we do, and hearing from you brings meaning to our day.

In peace, hope, and gratitude,

Richard A. Ungerer
Interim Executive Director

Special Topic: COVID-19


Join our partners at Firestorm Crisis Management Services for "Managing Your School Through the Pandemic," a FREE webinar tonight, Monday, at 7:00 PM. Among the topics to be addressed are implications of the crisis, decisions and actions associated with school operation, school facility closure, remote learning, and school reopening. Register by 4 PM (ET).


Earlier in the month, Firestorm presented a free webinar about steps for preparing for communicable diseases within your school. It is now on demand. AMS members can watch the recording on our website (login required).


Montessori is not just for the classroom. Here are some tips you can share with parents to help them make their home learning environments more aligned with Dr. Montessori's philosophy.

Child Care & Emergency Response

Emergency Child Care Homes 

Effective March 21, 2020 ,and for as long as the public health emergency continues, child care homes may serve up to six children as a legally license-exempt home. No application or registration is required. Providers must follow appropriate health practices. Providers who are in a higher risk group for COVID19, such as those over age 60 or with a pre-existing health condition, are discouraged from providing care during the time of the public health emergency.


Emergency Child Care Centers 

Effective March 21, 2020, child care centers that wish to serve as emergency child care sites for the children of critical emergency workers may apply for an Emergency Child Care License. These emergency child care sites will be the only child care centers legally allowed to operate during the COVID-19 State of Emergency. Emergency Child Care Centers may be located in: schools; community-based organizations such as churches and social services organizations; or health care facilities or other workplaces for critical emergency workers.  (Note:  clarification will be issued that this is inclusive of private centers as well as non-profit programs)

Message from the US Secretary of Education

ED Seal

Helping Students Adversely Affected by School Closures, Secretary DeVos Announces Broad Flexibilities for States to Cancel Testing During National Emergency

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced today students impacted by school closures due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic can bypass standardized testing for the 2019-2020 school year. Upon a proper request, the Department will grant a waiver to any state that is unable to assess its students due to the ongoing national emergency, providing relief from federally mandated testing requirements for this school year.

Secretary DeVos commented: “Students need to be focused on staying healthy and continuing to learn. Teachers need to be able to focus on remote learning and other adaptations. Neither students nor teachers need to be focused on high-stakes tests during this difficult time. Students are simply too unlikely to be able to perform their best in this environment. Our actions today provide turnkey flexibilities for state and local leaders to focus on the immediate needs of their students and educators without worrying about federal repercussions. I’ve spoken with many local education leaders in the past days, and I’m inspired by their efforts to help their students continue to learn and grow. We’re going to continue to provide every flexibility possible to help make that as simple as possible.”

In response to the extraordinary public health threat posed by COVID-19, President Donald J. Trump declared a national emergency. As a result, many states have closed some or all schools. Therefore, a state unable to assess its students may seek a waiver from federal testing requirements by completing a form available at At the Secretary’s direction, the Department has dramatically streamlined the application process to make it as simple as possible for state leaders who are grappling with many complex issues.

To protect students’ health and safety, a state that deems it necessary should proceed with cancelling its statewide assessments for the 2019-2020 school year. Since student performance, as measured by assessments, is required to be used in statewide accountability systems, any state that receives a one-year waiver may also receive a waiver from the requirement that this testing data be used in the statewide accountability system due to the national emergency.  

The Department will continue to speak with state and local leaders to identify any additional needed flexibilities, and it remains in coordination with Congress on expanding the range of flexibilities available to the Department under law.

The Department continues to update with information for students, parents, educators and local leaders about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

For additional resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about COVID-19, please visit

Phase Federal Coronavirus Response Information

ISBE Update and Free Internet Access Opportunities

Dear Colleagues: 


I want to be sure you are aware of the free internet access opportunities from AT&T, Spectrum, and Comcast. ISBE has listed these opportunities at Please share them with your students, staff, and communities. We need to be prepared to continue remote teaching and learning both online and off, potentially beyond March 30.  


Belleville Township High School District 201 has also taken a creative approach to ensuring all students have access to the internet. According to WILL, the district “is deploying four school buses equipped with WiFi to serve as Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the community. Drivers park the buses next to seven different parks scattered throughout the community and Belleville’s downtown YMCA, depending on the day of the week, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. every Monday through Friday.” 


Wow. I can’t say this enough: I’m so grateful for the way teachers, administrators, and families are helping students adapt to this unexpected crisis. 


Today, we also saw staff and volunteers in Libertyville District 70 preparing and distributing Chromebooks and iPads for drive-through pickup, so students can keep learning. We saw Mrs. Latka, a choir director at Forest Ridge, sing a special song to her students via the internet. We saw about a dozen teachers from Goodrich School in Woodbridge using YouTube to lead students through physical exercise. And we saw educators who support students who are deaf, hard of hearing, deafblind, blind, or low vision provide resources, accommodation options, and collaboration avenues for educators and families through email and social media.


That’s just a few of the amazing things teachers are doing. If you can take the time to share these stories via Twitter with #ILSchoolsStepUp, please do. Those posts inspire others and show your staff how much they and their efforts matter.


It's easy to get stuck in a crisis mindset. As leaders, it is important now more than ever show appreciation for the added hours, the volunteering, and the extra mile. This praise and recognition will be the fuel your teachers and staff need to keep going for as long as the school closure is necessary.   


Please keep preparing to educate students at home and to ensure their nutritional needs are met in the event the closure extends beyond March 30. And please keep taking the time to tell each other and your teachers and staff, thank you.  




Dr. Carmen I. Ayala 
State Superintendent of Education 
Illinois State Board of Education  

ISBE School Closure Special Education Guidance

Sending on behalf of State Superintendent Dr. Carmen I. Ayala:


Good afternoon,


Thank you for your patience as we have been developing specific guidance regarding special education. Please see the attached School Closure Special Education Guidance for Illinois Schools and Local Education Agencies. The guidance is also posted at  


Please continue to send any questions you may have to Thank you for all you are doing on behalf of each and every one of our students.

ISBE Request for Non-Public Schools E-Learning Technology Needs Survey

Good afternoon,


All ISBE registered and/or recognized nonpublic schools have now been added to the E-Learning Technology Needs Survey located at the bottom of the webpage. Complete the survey by selecting the “Nonpublic School” checkbox and a drop down will be provided. Please ensure that you select the school with the correct RCDT code, as there are numerous Nonpublic schools with the same name.


If  you have additional questions, please email Thank you!


Megan Griffin

Director of Internal Communications

Office of Communications

Illinois State Board of Education

(217) 782-4648

Empower Illinois School Newsletter March 18, 2020

Update from Empower Illinois

We know that your school community's health and safety is the top priority during these unprecedented times. We also know that many families are counting on a Tax Credit Scholarship so their children can attend the private school of their choice next school year. And that is exactly why Empower Illinois will continue to work hard for students, for families, and for the Tax Credit Scholarship Program.  

Scholarship Awarding

While our operations continue on a remote basis, we are temporarily pausing any new scholarship awards this week. Additionally, we will not be processing any new applications. Both of these decisions are to ensure that families without computer access at home, or those establishing a routine to keep their family safe, do not miss the 10 day window to provide additional documentation, if required. We will reevaluate the resumption of scholarship awarding and application review next week. As of now, all current award expirations will remain the same, and we are continuing to process donations regularly, so awarding can resume quickly.  

School Calendar

With schools temporarily closed, we are putting the Spring Quarter Attendance verification on hold. When we know more about when schools will be back in session, we will reevaluate the Attendance Verification window.

Invest in Kids Act Testing

Empower Illinois is contact with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) about how school closures may affect Invest in Kids Act testing. ISBE has yet to make a decision. At this time, they are working with the U.S. Department of Education and the testing companies to evaluate the best way forward. We ask that, to the best of your abilities, you continue planning for the Invest in Kids Act testing. We will communicate any information to you as soon as it becomes available. In the meantime, please reach out to Lacey Shiffer at ISBE (1-866-317-6034, with questions or concerns. 

As noted above, our team remains engaged in this work and would be happy to address your questions or concerns. Please let us know how we can support your school during this time by reaching out to our Schools Helpline (888-458-9099,

Thank you and be well,
The Empower Illinois Team

At Home Learning Resources

In addition to any resources provided by your local school or classroom teacher, below is a list of free, online academic resources.

Khan Academy | Khan Academy offers free, online standards-aligned lessons covering kindergarten through early college math, grammar, science, history, AP® courses, SAT® preparation, and more. These courses are offered in 40 different languages.

Modern States | Modern States offers tuition free, high quality courses online from top institutions for college credit. | offers online coding and computer science courses for students as early as Kindergarten.

Crash Course | This channel offers a huge library of videos across most major disciplines, including playlists of 48 videos on U.S. history, 72 on world history, and 50 on U.S. government and politics. Each episode is generally 10 to 15 minutes long and features John Green talking about the subject, mixed in with some humor and animations. 

Amplify | This ed tech company is working at making its online instructional materials available for free for parents. Check back soon for more information.

Bellweather Education Partners | Bellwether Education Partners is a national nonprofit focused on dramatically changing education and life outcomes for underserved children. They are offering probono services to schools on how to address a variety of issues related to operations, strategy and decision-making, state and federal policy guidance, curriculum and instruction, and financial planning.

General Resources

We know that many of the families we serve together may be in need of additional community support during this time. The list below includes both education and non-education resources for families.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) | resources
U.S. Department of Education | resources
U.S. Department of Agriculture (meal services) | resources
Illinois State Board of Education | resources
Illinois Department of Public Health | resources
Comcast 60-day free internet service | details

What We're Reading

The 74Analysis: What Should Schools Do to Help ‘Flatten the Curve’ in Fighting Coronavirus? A Lot of What They’re Already Doing

QuartzWith 290 million kids out of school, coronavirus is putting online learning to the test

School Spotlight

Congratulations to Shay Boyle, who was recently named the new President of Notre Dame College Prep! Read the announcement here

If you are interested in sharing news about your school, please reach out to us at We would love to feature your school in an upcoming newsletter!

ISBE Update - March 18th

Dear Colleagues:   


Today was the first day of the mandated statewide school closure – and we made it through together. ISBE hosted two webinars for administrators today with more than 1,500 total participants. Thank you for the opportunity to connect and for your thoughtful questions. The presentation from the webinar is available at 


One question we received many times today was regarding reimbursement for school bus transportation during the closure, when school buses may not be running regular routes. The answer is that: 


ISBE will base transportation reimbursement on expenditures. All allowable transportation expenditures incurred during the closure will be claimable for Transportation Reimbursement. School districts should work with their bus contractors to make payments to ensure that all personnel, including bus monitors and bus drivers, can continue to be paid during the closure. If school districts choose to negotiate and execute a contract amendment with their bus contractors to make payments during the closure to ensure transportation personnel will be paid in full, those expenditures will be reimbursed for state Transportation Reimbursement. Consultation with the district’s legal representation is advised. 


Earlier today, we released a joint statement with the Office of Governor JB Pritzker, Illinois Education Association, Illinois Federation of Teachers, Illinois Association of School Administrators, and Illinois Principals Association about the rights and expectations of school district employees. I would like to thank our partners for their collaboration, and I encourage you to consult this guidance on issues of pay and work during the closure: 


Another question we received frequently today was about grading student work during the closure. We wish to clarify that: 


Student work completed during the mandated statewide school closure must not negatively impact a student’s grades or otherwise impact a student’s academic standing. As we do not yet know the full extent of the closure and want to minimize any negative effects on students, schools may allow student work to count during the closure only to increase a student’s academic standing. 


Our students may be experiencing varying mental and physical health challenges at this time and may have very different access to supports and technology at home. Our goal is that no student is negatively impacted by the closure and that no school district’s policies or procedures should widen the equity gap.  


Our friends at the Illinois Association of School Administrators started the hashtag #ILSchoolsStepUp to share inspirational stories of how schools are providing nutrition, using creative educational strategies, and ensuring continuity for our children in the midst of what feels like a chaotic time.   


We know there are countless stories to be told, because across the state, we have seen cooperation, generosity of spirit, and a laser focus on our true priority – doing what’s best for students. People often show their true colors in a crisis, and our true colors make me proud.   




Dr. Carmen I. Ayala 
State Superintendent of Education 
Illinois State Board of Education 

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act – What are the New Time Off Obligations that Covered Employers must Address?</>

Some basic information about private school insurance and COVID-19

We were able to speak with Jerry Orpen, ARM, Senior Vice President and Director of Education-Practice for Crum-Halsted Insurance and Risk Management about private school options for insurance claims. He was willing to share these notes with our member schools. We know many of you know Jerry and work with him so we are sharing his candid comments here. We do encourage you to check with your school’s insurance agent for details about your specific policy, as this is general information. Clearly, we will be advocating for public funds to be funneled into private schools to mitigate financial losses from the closings.

There are a couple of issues going on here, as pertains to insurance policies.  The first is the definition of what triggers a business interruption loss.  According to just about every policy I have ever read, there must be a "direct, physical the premises".  This would mean that something that was covered by your insurance policy, physically occurred to the premises where the school is located.

There is also a clause in most policies regarding "Civil Authority".  Unfortunately, this is defined as a "direct, physical loss" to a neighboring structure, which causes the government to close access to the means of ingress or egress to your school.
And finally, most policies include an exclusion for "Loss Due to Virus or Bacteria".
I participated in a webinar on Friday concerning this and here are some of the take-aways and suggestions made by the panel of school-law experts:Be flexible with PTO and relax standards regarding days-off

  1. Be flexible with PTO and relax standards regarding days-off
  2. If you have foreign or exchange students, be aware of their F-1 Status and how that relates to ICE Guidelines
  3. Allow employees to work from home, if available.  If they are non-exempt employees, make sure that proper time-keeping mechanisms are in place to accurately monitor hours worked
  4. Use of Your Premises by Outside Groups- this is discouraged, but check the contracts you have entered into with these groups to see if such contracts may be cancelled
  5. As the Government has declared this to be a "Pandemic", there is more 'leeway' given to Employers in matters of employment law.  I am not an attorney, nor am I proffering legal advice, so please consult with your school attorney regarding any formal, legal advice
  6. One the basic philosophies of Montessori Education is active, hands-on instruction.  Although the curriculum may not lend itself well to off-site/home instruction, many schools have adopted a E-Learning as an alternative.  If a school decides to pursue this, they are encouraged to seek constant feedback from parents and students as to how the program is running, what improvements can be made, etc.
  7. Liability for the school may be created by not following minimum standards as published by the CDC or local/state Departments of Education

This whole thing is a mess and, unfortunately, not covered by the vast majority of insurance policies.  The Federal Government has proposed relaxing guidelines to collect unemployment insurance and to provide tax credits to organizations who continue to pay their employees during a shutdown.  Granted, this has not gone into law yet and has to pass the Senate, so this is still in the 'proposal stage'.

For any time that you are open and before re-opening, CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN and document all of that cleaning in detail.

March 15th Email

View PDF versions of the letters below:

COVID-19 - FAQ for child care providers 3-15-20.pdf

COVID-19 - Guidance for Child Care Centers COVID-19 closures 3-15-2020.pdf

We have a few more pieces of information to offer tonight on CIVID-19 and school closings. 

Below is a letter from the IL State Superintendent to both public and private school leaders:

Dear Colleagues:

Today we hosted six tele-town halls with superintendents, regional superintendents, and other educational leaders across the state. More than 1,200 of you called in – and we are so grateful to have had the opportunity to connect with you. I am inspired by your willingness to step up and jump in, especially on a Sunday! I know Illinois’ students are in good hands.

I would like to restate that the statewide mandatory school closure begins March 17 and extends through at least March 30. All of the days during this initial closure March 17-30 will be considered Act of God Days and will not be made up. ISBE is encouraging all school districts to provide learning opportunities to all students, through whatever means possible. Student work during this time should not be graded, as these days are not Instructional Days.

School districts have total flexibility over the calendar designation for tomorrow, Monday, March 16. School districts may elect to use an Emergency Day; a Teacher Institute Day, even if the district has already used all of its pre-planned Teacher Institute Days; a half-day of student attendance; or, if a district has already exhausted all of its Emergency Days, an Act of God Day.

Please be prepared to serve meals in non-congregate settings beginning on Tuesday. Our goal is that every school district has submitted the Unanticipated School Closure Non-Congregate Meal Form by the end of the day tomorrow. This is one of our highest priorities. 

ISBE is in daily communication with the Governor’s Office and public health officials about the possibility of the closure continuing beyond March 30. Please understand that the situation is incredibly fluid and that we may not be able to determine what will happen after March 30 until we get closer to that date.

To that end, ISBE is working with the Governor's Office to explore opportunities within the philanthropic community to ensure that every public school in Illinois has the technology needed to provide e-learning to all students in the immediate future, should the mandated school closure need to extend beyond March 30.

Public school district superintendents, we ask that you respond to the E-Learning Technology Needs Survey at the bottom of as soon as possible to tell us exactly what you need to move to a 1:1 environment at all grade levels and to provide online instruction to students. One response per public school district should be recorded.

ISBE is developing robust guidance on special education and on staffing questions related to the mandatory statewide closure, as well as compiling the questions and answers from today’s tele-town halls. In the meantime, please continue to reference:

We have seen remarkable leadership, service, and dedication from every corner of the state. Thank you.


Dr. Carmen I. Ayala
State Superintendent of Education
Illinois State Board of Education

Also, here is the Information and Support letter from the IL Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development:

Date: March 13, 2020

Memo to: Early Childhood Care and Education Program Administrators 

Subject: COVID-19: Information and Support for Early Childhood Care and Education Programs

The Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (IDCFS) knows that many early childhood care and education (ECCE) programs are wondering what can or should be done to prepare for a possible increase in the number of cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Illinois.

The United States (U.S.) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides up-to-date information about prevention, symptoms, testing, and the current situation. Follow CDC recommendations. 

The health and well-being of children, families, and staff in Illinois is of utmost importance. The immediate health risk to the general public from the virus causing COVID-19 remains low both in the U.S. and in Illinois. However, there are steps individuals can take to help minimize the COVID-19 spread. 

For Program Staff

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid exposure. When talking with program staff, administrators are encouraged to emphasize the following to help keep your staff and program participants healthy; these strategies also can help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after staff have been in a public place, or after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. All hand surfaces should be covered; hands should be rubbed together until they feel dry.
  • Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing or use the inside of the elbow.
  • Stay home when sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
For more information, see Steps to Prevent Illness or Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives from the CDC.

For Families

Support families in planning and making decisions for how they can protect themselves and their family members and homes. See the CDC Get Your Home Ready: Checklist for Individuals and Families for information on how families can create a household plan of action. Encourage families to consider members of their household that may be of greater risk, particularly older people and people of all ages with severe underlying conditions. 

Develop an Action Plan

Through collaboration and coordination with local health departments, child care facilities and ECCE programs can take steps to disseminate information about COVID-19 and its potential transmission within their community. The IDCFS is requesting that you create a COVID-19 Action Plan that outlines, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Be Proactive
    • Develop strategies to reduce the spread of infectious diseases. Effective strategies build on already established infection control policies and practices.
    • Determine the need to develop and implement policies and procedures for working with, and providing services to, vulnerable populations. 
    • Develop and identify how you will manage each staff member’s responsibilities in the event of his or her illness or extended absence to ensure continuation of service. 
  • Avoid Exposure
    • Outline preventive steps to limit the frequent and close interaction between staff and delivery service personnel.
    • Ensure children’s daily health checks are completed upon arrival. Strictly enforce policies about excluding children when they are ill.
    • Via routine communication, inform potential visitors that symptomatic persons will not be able to enter the program facility. Be sure to screen and exclude visitors upon arrival if they have had potential exposure to COVID-19, recently travelled from an affected geographic area, or who appear to be experiencing fever, cough, or shortness of breath.
    • Minimize the number of events, including parent groups, until further notice.
  • Sanitize
    • Purchase infection control supplies such as hand sanitizer and soap for children, staff, and visitors to your facility per CDC recommendations.
    • Evaluate existing janitorial services and cleaning operations against the current CDC cleaning guidance
  • Monitor and Plan for Absenteeism
    • Review the usual absentee patterns among both students and staff. Alert local health officials about large increases in children and staff absenteeism, particularly if absences appear to be due to respiratory illnesses.
    • Review current attendance and sick leave policies. Develop new policies outlining mandatory leave for staff with COVID-19 exposure, symptoms of illness, or confirmed infection. This should include quarantine for 14 days post-exposure or isolation, if symptomatic.
    • Determine the need to anticipate and approve flexible work schedules for staff absences.
    • Develop a tracking mechanism to monitor staff illness and determine your program’s ability to meet required staffing ratios. 
  • Communicate
    • Develop an employee awareness campaign that provides information on COVID-19 and protective measures. Create a communication strategy to describe actions being taken to keep staff informed.
    • Develop a family awareness campaign that provides information on COVID-19 and protective measures. Create a communication strategy to describe actions being taken to keep families informed. Ensure Action Plans address the need for effective communication with individuals with limited English proficiency or for whom English is not their native language.
    • The CDC has numerous print resources available in several languages, as well as a series of videos (in English) that can be shared with staff and families. 
  • Partner
    • Reach out to your local public health officials (such as the county health department) for guidance if you are considering closing for a COVID-19 related reason. This is not a decision that you should be making on your own, but in partnership with local health officials.

See the CDC Interim Guidance for Administrators of U.S. Childcare Programs and K-12 Schools for additional recommendations.

Please submit to IDCFS ( your Agency Action Plan providing details on preventive measures and continuity of operations protocols by March 20, 2020. Your assigned IDCFS Licensing staff will be available to answer any questions or provide clarifications.

For additional information and updates, visit the following:

IDPH COVID-19 Website

CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Here is the link to that same letter:

This situation will continue to unfold and AIMS will continue to provide updates and support and will be sharing support options that are being developed by our national Montessori organizations as well. We are all acutely aware that these policies implemented to slow the progress of the virus are deeply affecting our schools and families and are working on both providing and advocating for support. 

Thank you,

Cheryl and Denise

March 14th Email

We have been working to gather information to support our AIMS schools through this difficult period. We have been in communication with DCFS and at this point there is no mandate for licensed child care programs to be closed. We have spoken with the Illinois State Board of Education and they have informed us that licensed child care programs that serve children under kindergarten age are not mandated to close, even if they are part of a larger school that is mandated to close pre-kindergarten and up school programs. This is a rapidly unfolding situation and we expect more explicit guidance from the governor’s office soon. We are aware that there many ramifications to these closings and are continually working to get the most updated information and support available. 

Statement from the Illinois Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development:

Early Childhood Care and Education Community, 

The health and well-being of children, families, and early childhood care and education providers in Illinois is of utmost importance. Many Illinois residents are wondering what can or should be done to prepare for a possible increase in the number of cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) within the state. 

Helping control the spread of COVID-19 is everyone's civic responsibility. 

GOECD has developed a COVID-19 resource page on our website with links to information to help keep all Illinois residents, especially families, providers, and those who support children, informed. We invite you to visit this page often and to share it with your networks. 

Message from the City of Chicago Department of Family and Support Services:

Yesterday afternoon, Governor Pritzker announced a two-week, temporary suspension of public schools statewide.  For Chicago Early Learning, this suspension applies only to programs that are operating in a CPS school setting. 

Please inform us immediately of any changes to your normal operations by completing this survey:

We want to remind everyone to remind their families and staff of the simple measures that each individual should take to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

  • Stay home if you are not feeling well and keep sick kids at home
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; use at least 60% alcohol based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue away
  • Practice social distancing where appropriate, including alternatives to shaking hands, like an elbow bump or hand wave
  • Avoid large group gatherings, especially if you are over 60 years old and have serious underlying health conditions

Click on these links for detailed guidance from the Office of Head Start ( and the Center for Disease Control (

CDC Info Page for Schools:

Illinois Department of Public Health Information:

We at AIMS will continue to update with all available information that we can acquire.

On the topic of parent concern about what to do with children at home for so many days here are some great links that Melanie Thiesse, Director of School Quality and Accreditation at AMS shared (with credit to Michelle Jacob and Brenda Huth as well) for activity suggestions and websites:


Cheryl and Denise

March 13th Email

AIMS is relaying this urgent message from the Illinois State Superintendent regarding school closures and COVID-19. As we are sure you are aware, this is a rapidly changing situation and we will be working to get more information, especially about state support, through the next couple of days.


The AIMS Board
Denise Monnier
Director of State Advocacy