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Illinois school district's dress code forbids students from wearing pajamas for online classes

"They get good grades so worry about teaching not clothes. As long as they are covered up who cares?" asked one parent.

Illinois school district's dress code forbids students from wearing pajamas for online classes
Cover Image Source: Getty Images (representative)

An Illinois school district's dress code has left parents divided for dictating what their children can and cannot wear at home while attending online classes. Under an updated handbook from Springfield Public Schools, students choosing to learn remotely amid the Coronavirus pandemic will be subject to the district's current dress code, which prohibits pajama pants. The dress code changes — which also forbids hoods, sunglasses, and bandanas — led to questions and concerns from parents, many of whom believe the no-pajama rule is a little too intrusive and that the district shouldn't be telling them what they can't do in their own homes.

 



 

"I made the decision for my kids to be at home, and I don't really see how any district can come in and say what my kid can't wear in my house," parent Elizabeth Ballinger told local news station WCIA. "I don't think they have any right to say what happens in my house. I think they have enough to worry about as opposed to what the kids are wearing. They need to make sure they're getting educated." According to the network, another parent commented online saying: "They get good grades so worry about teaching not clothes. As long as they are covered up who cares?"

 



 

Christy Schmidt, who has two children that attend school in the district, told The New York Times that she watched some of their Zoom calls last semester and found 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?" she asked. Schmidt's 14-year-old son, Ian, also shared his thoughts about the dress code, simply stating: "It sounds stupid."

 



 

Although this appears to be the majority opinion, the district found support from some parents who said that the requirement was simply about "a little bit of respect to show up clean and ready for class." The school manual also requires students to be "sitting up out of bed preferably at a desk or table" during remote learning. According to ABC 7, Jason Wind — director of school support — recently told school board members that the "expectation is that the dress code is upheld. We don't need students in pajamas and all those other things while on their Zoom conferences."

 



 

On the other hand, the Springfield Education Association president, Aaron Graves, said that "the whole pajama thing is really at the bottom of our priority scale when it comes to public education." He added that teachers have more important things to focus on, such as ensuring that students get a comprehensive education during the pandemic. "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 schoolhouse. Raising the bar for all kids and helping them get there, whether they're in their pajamas or tuxedo is really what's important," he said.

 

 



 

The school district echoed the same in a statement to NBC 5, clarifying that the dress code will be flexible. "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," it explained. "However, we understand the interpretation of the dress code in a remote learning environment will differ from a normal school setting. It is understandable that during remote learning our dress code will be flexible."

 



 

District spokeswoman Bree Hankins said that they don't plan on punishing students who don't abide by the wardrobe guidelines. "We do not intend to be punitive or to prescribe what students wear at home during remote learning, especially in this period of uncertainty and adjustment for students, families, and staff," she said in a statement. "If there is a specific concern as it relates to dress code, we will address it individually with the student and their family." Roughly 14,000 students attend Springfield schools where classes are scheduled to resume on August 31 with a combination of online and in-person classes.

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