No pajama pants allowed while learning from home, district says

Along with the clothing requirements, the district’s remote learning guidelines mandate that students be “sitting up out of bed, preferably at a desk or table.”

Students working on laptops in casual clothing.
South Carolina students worked on laptops in March while wearing casual clothing. –Ken Ruinard/The Independent-Mail via AP

Students in the capital of Illinois are not allowed to wear hats, bandannas, sunglasses, pajama pants or slippers in school buildings. And that dress code now extends to their bedrooms and kitchen tables.

“We don’t need students in pajamas and all those other things while on their Zoom conferences,” Jason Wind, the district’s director of student support, explained during an online board meeting of Springfield Public Schools this past week.

Along with the clothing requirements, the district’s remote learning guidelines mandate that students be “sitting up out of bed, preferably at a desk or table.”

A district spokeswoman, Bree Hankins, said in a statement that the remote learning guidelines were developed collaboratively with teachers, administrators and parents, and that the dress code reflected what the students would be wearing when in school.

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The district, which has about 14,000 students, does not expect to be punitive during remote learning, Hankins said.

“Our hope is that students approach remote learning as they would in a classroom setting, to the extent possible given each student’s individual circumstances,” Hankins said. “However, we understand the interpretation of the dress code in a remote learning environment will differ from a normal school setting.”

Other prohibited items, according to the district’s handbook, include clothing that is extremely baggy or that displays offensive language or symbols, and shoes that have wheels on the bottom.

“Each school has a reasonable interpretation of the dress code depending upon the building’s culture and climate,” the handbook says.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the district will start the school year Aug. 31 with a hybrid program, with students attending in-person classes two days a week. During the three days they are at home, the rules will still apply, the district said.

Christy Schmidt, who has two children that attend school in Springfield, Illinois, said that she watched some of their Zoom calls last semester, and that there was no correlation between what students were wearing and whether they paid attention.

“How much hassle are you going to give the parent with four kids, working a full-time job trying to support their kids, and their kid attended the Zoom meeting, but he was in pajamas?” said Schmidt, who has led a support group for parents during the pandemic.

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