Students who attend Illinois schools will be permitted to take up to five excused mental or behavior health days beginning in January.
Under a bill signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker last month, students age six to 17 won't be required to present a medical note and "shall be given the opportunity to make up any school work missed," the legislation stated.
Illinois Rep. Barbara Hernandez, a co-sponsor of the bill, told the Daily Herald such days "will be really beneficial" for students, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Many students feel stressed, and have developed anxiety and depression because they're not able to see teachers and friends, and may have lower grades due to remote learning," she told the newspaper. "This will allow them to get the help they need."
After a student uses their second mental health day, they may be referred to the "appropriate school support personnel," such as counselors.
Under current state law, any child who is physically or mentally unable to attend school must be granted temporary absence from a physician or principal in order to receive excused time off, said Illinois Sen. Robert Martwick, who also co-sponsored the bill.
“As society continues to increase the importance of addressing mental health as a part of health care, we must ensure that our students have the ability to address issues they are dealing with,” Martwick said in April, after the bill passed the Senate. “This bill removes the stigma and allows students to prioritize their mental health and stability.”