SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — The Illinois School Board of Education released a statement saying it will advocate for the U.S. Department of Education to make waivers available for Spring 2021 assessments.

Waivers were offered last spring while all schools in the state began teaching remotely. According to ISBE, more than a million students are still learning completely remotely right now, and fewer than 200 districts serving less than 200,000 students are currently able to offer fully in-person instruction.

“Given where we are, we believe it is more important to focus on supporting our students’ transition back to in-person learning, than to focus on assessments,” State Superintendent Dr. Carmen Ayala wrote in a statement.

Monticello Superintendent Vic Zimmerman was one of nearly 700 superintendents in Illinois to sign on to a letter urging leaders to allow waivers this spring.

“We’re in favor of accountability,” Zimmerman said. “But we’re in favor of a lot of things that we haven’t been able to do during this school year, and then even going back to last March. So we feel it’s in the best interest of students and schools to postpone or not have federal standardized testing in this school year. We’ll get back at it next year and we’ll show some great scores.”

Mahomet-Seymour’s superintendent, Dr. Lindsey Hall, voiced concerns in late January about standardized testing this semester as well.

“We’re trying to maximize the time that our kids are in front of teachers, so that we can maximize learning,” Hall told WCIA. “We’ve lost a lot of time. There is learning loss that we’re seeing in our students.”

According to the Washington Post, more than 70 local, state and national organizations signed on to a letter to President Biden’s Education Secretary nominee, Miguel Cardona, calling on him to let states find other ways to assess student progress this spring.