CDC report: 1 in 10 Illinois students learned in-person for 8 months of pandemic

CDC report: 1 in 10 Illinois students learned in-person for 8 months of pandemic

Illinois ranked 9th worst in the nation for offering students access to full-time in-person learning between September 2020 and April 2021 – less than any other Midwest state.

A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study revealed 90% of Illinois students did not have access to full-time in-person learning for eight months during the pandemic.

The Land of Lincoln ranked 42nd in the nation for full-time in-person learning for students between September 2020 and April, according to a CDC Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released Tuesday.

Wyoming and Montana led the nation, offering 100% in-person instruction. Meanwhile, Hawaii came in last, with just 1.3% for the in-person option.

The report, based on data from about 46% of kindergarten through 12th grade public school enrollment in the U.S., found Illinois ranked worst in the Midwest – offering just 1 in 10 Illinois students access to full-time in-person instruction, on average.

This rate was even lower for Illinois’ students of color.

Illinois was one of 43 states in which students of color had less access to full-time in-person learning than their non-Hispanic white counterparts. CDC researchers offered a few potential explanations for the racial disparity in the report.

“Urban districts might be less likely to open for full-time in-person learning, in part because of higher COVID-19 community rates, and these districts generally include more students of color,” proposed researchers. “Further, rates of COVID-19 hospitalization and mortality have been higher in communities of color, and districts serving a larger share of these students might have faced more significant public health challenges as they made decisions about reopening schools.”

The report found access to full-time in-person instruction for non-Hispanic white students rose by 36% nationwide from January to April. In the same period, black students saw a 31% increase, Hispanic students saw a 23% increase and students of other races and ethnicities saw a 30% increase.

Notably, the study only examines what proportion of students were given the option to learn in-person, not the actual rate of students who returned to the classroom.

These proportions can differ from the reality as Chicago Public Schools found when it reopened remote learning to students back in May 2020. Over the course of a week where 90% of CPS students had access to remote learning resources, 23% of students never logged on.

CDC researchers concluded that remote learning has been linked to student learning losses and can have adverse mental health effects on children and parents.

According to the most recent state information available online, 423 of Illinois’ 849 school districts were providing blended or hybrid learning, 398 were fully in person and 28 were fully remote.

This coming school year, the Illinois State Board of Education will require schools to offer daily in-person learning, with limited exceptions for medically vulnerable students.

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