While students at one central Illinois school district set to learn at home this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic might think they have a little more flexibility when it comes to dress code, comfy PJs and slippers are off the table. Indeed, the Illinois school district specifically banned pajamas for remote students, drawing mixed reactions from parents and educators.
Springfield Public Schools released an updated student handbook late last week, which included new language for remote learners. Along with directing remote students to attend class while sitting at a desk or table rather than their in bed, the handbook also noted they must be dressed according to the district's dress code.
"Hats, caps, bandanas, hoods of any type, sweatbands, sunglasses, pajama pants, slippers, or shoes with wheels attached to the bottom shall not be worn," the handbook reads. To ensure students are focusing — and adhering to the dress code — students learning from home are required to virtually attend class with their camera on and clearly focused on themselves, per the handbook.
"We don't need students in pajamas and all those other things while on their Zoom conference and so forth," Director of School Support Jason Wind told members of the Springfield Public Schools Board of Education in an Aug. 3 Zoom meeting archived on YouTube. "Everyone in the committee felt that was an important portion to this to make a change and state that very specifically"
Wind clarified the handbook had been updated to make it clear that remote students would be expected to adhere to the district's dress code as if they were attending school in person. "In our regular student dress code, it actually states that pajama pants and so forth are not acceptable school apparel," Wind said. "They must follow the dress code of the building, and so no pajama pants. That goes back into we don't want them sitting in their bedroom and so forth. We want them at a table preferably."
According to Wind, students who are found to be wearing pajamas while attending Zoom classes will be cut from the virtual class session and will then have their parents or guardian notified.
Online, however, some parents expressed frustration that the district was implementing a dress code for remote learners. "You will never tell me what my kid is to do or not to do in MY HOUSE," one parent commented on Facebook. "Who cares what they wear, as long as they are learning," another wrote. "Geesh. Let's focus on the real problems!"
But while Springfield Public Schools' no pajamas at home rule has made national headlines, sparking debate among parents and educators across the country, it seems as if it's actually not such a high priority item for the district itself.
"In truth, the whole pajama thing is really at the bottom of our priority scale when it comes to public education," Springfield Education Association President Aaron Graves said in a statement to WCIA. "We really want to see kids coming to the table of education whether it's at the kitchen table with the laptop there or whether it's the actual brick and mortar school house. Raising the bar for all kids and helping them get there, whether their in their pajamas or tuxedo is really what's important."
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