Governor J.B. Pritzker announced today that Illinois K-12 school districts are receiving $7 billion in federal funding to support students as they return to the classroom after distance and hybrid learning due to COVID-19.

According to spread sheets that accompany the announcement, the allocations to School District 65 are estimated to total about $10.6 million. The allocations to School District 202 is estimated to total about $3.7 million.

The funds would be paid over a three year period.

“With this unprecedented level of funding, Governor Pritzker asked education experts to share best practices and recommendations to best support students, including academic and behavioral counseling; out-of-classroom experiences like high-value tutoring, after school programs and summer camps; and creating individualized student profiles to craft the best plans for all students,” the Governor’s Office said in a prepared statement.

Recommendations are available online through the P-20 Council’s Learning Renewal Resource Guide, which is being released to all school districts April 1. The 180-page guide contains ideas to help school districts renew learning and provide ongoing feedback.

“If you’re a parent, I know you’ve spent most of this pandemic worried about how your kids are learning — with all the screens and Zooms, sometimes you’re worried about whether they’re learning at all,” said Governor Pritzker. “My administration is taking a little bit of that worry off your plates. I’m committed to making sure that Illinois leads the nation in assisting schools to make this new $7 billion count over the next several years to overcome the pandemic’s effects on our students, parents and educators.”

“Black people have suffered from systemic racism for far too long, so I am proud that I led the effort to change Illinois’ educational system for our Black students,” Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) said. “The law we passed required the state’s P-20 Council to make recommendations on how to address the impact of COVID-19, resulting in the Learning Renewal Guide. It will help our state’s schools and universities make the best use of the more than $7 billion they’re receiving in federal aid. This funding is especially important for schools in disproportionately affected Black communities.”

“We have an unprecedented opportunity through this federal funding to transform the quality of learning opportunities for all our students,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “This guide provides a roadmap for how our education system can emerge from the pandemic stronger, with even greater capacity to close gaps and achieve equity. That journey begins with getting students back into the classroom as soon and as much as possible.”

In addition to the guide, the Governor’s Office said the Illinois State education agencies will focus on four major goals to support schools:

• High-impact tutoring, with a focus on aligning tutoring with classroom instruction throughout the school year and during the summer.
• Social and emotional learning community partnerships, including with the Center for Childhood Resilience, housed at Lurie Children’s Hospital.
• Interim assessment, intended solely for diagnostic purposes, to provide reliable measures for understanding the impact on student learning so educators can target their responses to students’ needs.
• Bridge/transition support, to encourage enrollment in both early childhood programs and higher education. 

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...