Coronavirus Illinois: Gov. Pritzker signs new remote learning legislation as COVID-19 cases increase by 593

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Gov. JB Pritzker has signed into law new protections for Illinois teachers and students as school districts carry out remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The newly signed legislation expands the emergency use of remote learning and waives student assessment requirements, under certain circumstances. It allows for remote learning days and up to five remote learning planning days to be considered attendance days.

"We emphasize in-person learning for all students to the greatest extent possible, while realizing that may not be feasible in all situations. Senate Bill 1569 creates a Blended Remote Learning Day option that gives schools additional flexibility as they develop plans for fall," said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen Ayala. "Schools that plan to utilize Blended Remote Learning Days should consider equity and prioritize in-person learning for our students with greater needs."

The legislation also extends teaching and education support professional licenses set to expire on June 30 for another year, and makes changes to the School code to support teacher recruitment.

The move comes as Illinois' coronavirus case total has reached 134,778, including 6,537 deaths across the state. On Thursday, state health officials reported 593 new COVID-19 cases and 55 deaths.

Illinois has conducted 25,504 tests in the last 24 hours, for a total of 1,283,832. The preliminary statewide test positivity rate is at 3% for June 11-June 17.

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On Wednesday, Gov. Pritzker announced a $900 million support package to provide relief to businesses and communities impacted by COVID-19.

Pritzker said programs that are part of the relief package will operate with equity provisions to ensure that those hit hardest by the pandemic benefit from the relief package.

There will be two housing assistance programs as part of the package, with $150 million going to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program and $150 million going toward the Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program. The programs will officially launch in August, with the governor extending the residential eviction ban until July 31.

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program will provide $5,000 grants to tenants who can't pay rent because of COVID-19, with 30,000 renters receiving support through the end of the year. The Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program will give approximately 10,000 homeowners a grant of up to $15,000.

Governor Pritzker's support package also includes $270 million in Business Interruption Grant, with applications being accepted starting Monday. The grants are for businesses including restaurants, bars, salons, gyms and other businesses unable to open or are severely restricted because of COVID-19. Small businesses damaged from civil unrest following the death of George Floyd are also eligible for relief.

Expanded emergency senior services, funding for food banks, grants for restorative justice groups and stipends for adults and youth seeking part-time summer employment are also part of the support package.

Governor Pritzker said the state must mitigate the effects of the virus on Illinois, " in a way that prioritizes those who were hurting long before we ever heard of COVID-19, to be there for people who are in need, people who are falling through the cracks, people who may have never expected themselves to need a helping hand from anyone else, but now they do."
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