School’s dress code for distance learning has many parents rolling their eyes

Aug. 11, 2020

Parents in Springfield, Illinois, who chose the distance learning option for their children got an interesting surprise last week when they learned the guidelines for learning at home will include following a school dress code. Remote students in Springfield won’t be allowed to wear pajamas, slippers or other cozy home attire while participating in class, and the rule has parents all over the country rolling their eyes.

The Springfield Schools Board of Education released an updated student handbook for the 2020-2021 school year that includes language extending all school guidelines to students participating in remote learning. These rules stipulate that students “will be sitting up out of bed preferably at a desk or table” during class times, and they “will be dressed according to the dress code.” The dress code forbids “hats, caps, bandanas, hoods of any type, sweatbands, sunglasses, pajama pants, slippers, or shoes with wheels attached to the bottom.”

In a meeting on August 3, Director of School Support Jason Wind told school board members, “We don’t need students in pajamas and all those other things while on their Zoom conference. In our regular student dress code, it actually states that pajama pants and so forth are not acceptable school apparel … They must follow the dress code of the building.”

News of the pajama pants ban has sparked criticism on social media. Many argue that virtual learning will be hard enough on students and parents. As long as students are wearing clothing, does it really matter if it’s a SpongeBob pajama top or a button-down shirt?

A professor at the University of North Carolina says she’s not even requiring her college students to follow a dress code. Her instructions? “Join in whatever you feel like wearing. It’s a pandemic.”

Of course, not everyone is against the new rules. Some argue that having a dress code will benefit kids’ mental health and make them more ready to learn.

While some may find comfort in the routine of changing into school clothes, there’s a difference between getting dressed because your parents say so and having the school board enforce rules on what you’re allowed to wear in your own home.

Springfield is one of many U.S. school districts offering a distance learning option to keep students and staff safe from COVID-19, but this form of learning presents plenty of challenges for families. Working parents are being asked to juggle the demands of their jobs with the requirements of kids’ school schedules. Some families also have multiple kids, may be caring for other relatives and might have limited space at home. For some kids, it simply won’t be possible to show up to Zoom class every day in fresh school clothes and sitting at a secluded desk or table.

In a statement provided to, district spokesperson Bree Hankins says Springfield’s remote learning guidelines are only intended to “provide a framework to navigate this new educational landscape,” and dress code enforcement 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,” she explains. “However, we understand the interpretation of the dress code in a remote learning environment will differ from a normal school setting, 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.”

Hankins also says the district is open to making their school guidelines more supportive and inclusive, adding, “If there is a specific concern as it relates to the dress code, we will address it individually with the student and their family.”

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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