Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she believes a crowded house party broadcast on social media over the weekend was on Chicago’s West Side but couldn’t yet confirm the location as it remains under investigation.
“It goes against all the things we’ve been talking about,” Lightfoot said Monday at her daily news conference.
Later in the afternoon, Gov. J.B. Pritzker defended his decisions to curb the spread of the new coronavirus with a message aimed downstate, saying once again that the highly contagious illness knows no regional boundaries.
State officials also announced 1,980 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 45,883. Additionally, 50 more deaths were reported, bringing that total to 1,983 people in Illinois who have been confirmed dead from causes related to the novel coronavirus.
Here’s what’s happening on Monday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:
5:10 p.m.: Downstate judge temporarily blocks Pritzker’s stay-at-home order from applying to Republican state lawmaker who sued
A Downstate judge delivered a setback to Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker Monday, issuing a temporary injunction allowing Republican state Rep. Darren Bailey to ignore the governor’s stay-at-home order.
The ruling by Clay County Circuit Court Judge Michael McHaney came in a lawsuit filed by Bailey, a Republican from the small town of Xenia, which challenged Pritzker’s authority to issue extended stay-at-home orders under the state’s Emergency Management Act.
In seeking the injunction on April 23, Bailey asked the judge to find that the lawmaker was “irreparably harmed each day he is subjected to” Pritzker’s executive order and to enjoin the governor or anyone under his authority “from enforcing the March 20 executive order against Bailey from this date forward.”
It was not immediately clear what effect the temporary restraining order would have on other Illinois residents besides Bailey. —Rick Pearson, Jamie Munks and Dan Petrella
4:50 p.m.: Michelle Obama’s ‘Stay home’ COVID-19 PSAs airing on black radio stations in Chicago, nationally
In Chicago and beyond, COVID-19 is killing African Americans at higher rates than other racial demographics, so Chicago native and former first Lady Michelle Obama has put together “stay home” public service announcements.
The spots are airing on black radio stations here and nationwide, according to the Obama Foundation, which oversees the planned Obama Presidential Center on the South Side.
“Hi everybody, it’s Michelle Obama. Our communities are among the hardest hit by the coronavirus and we have got to do everything we can to keep each other safe. That means staying home, because even if we’re not showing any symptoms we can still spread the virus to others,” she says, counseling those who want to have dinner, attend a church service with family and friends not under the same roof to do it by telephone or video.
Last week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker extended Illinois’ stay-at-home home order until May 30, with multiple modifications. Other states are beginning to lift their stay-home orders.
Michelle Obama’s ad encourages those who must leave home to wash their hands before and leaving their homes and to maintain social distancing.
The Obama Foundation said in a statement: “The goal is to encourage community members to follow stay at home orders during this difficult time in order to protect themselves and their loved ones.” —Lisa Donovan
4:40 p.m.: Nursing home workers authorize May 8 strike at 40 Chicago-area facilities
Workers at 40 nursing homes in the Chicago area said Monday they have set a strike date for May 8, as contract negotiations come to a head while coronavirus cases are hitting a peak.
SEIU Healthcare of Illinois stated that it represents more than 10,000 workers at 100 nursing homes, most of them in the Chicago area. They are negotiating with the Illinois Association of Healthcare Facilities on a new contract to succeed the current one, which expires April 30.
Many of the workers are making little more than Chicago’s minimum wage of $13 an hour for “backbreaking,” essential work taking care of society’s most vulnerable members, said Shaba Andrich, vice president for nursing homes. They are seeking at least $15 an hour across the board for their workers, and hazard pay for working during the coronavirus of $5.50 per hour.
“They were already struggling to take care of their families,” Andrich said. “We’re asking nursing homes to step up and do what’s right.” Read more here. —Robert McCoppin
4:35 p.m.: Plans to open former Sherman Hospital as COVID-19 overflow facility on hold for now, Elgin mayor says
Work converting the former Sherman Hospital into an overflow coronavirus care facility is complete, but it will not open to patients for the time being, Elgin Mayor Dave Kaptain said.
The city was notified of the decision last week in a conference call with state and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials, the mayor said.
“The Elgin alternate care facility is not going to be opened as initially planned,” a recent update the city’s daily coronavirus log said. “The decision to open the facility will depend on regional need over the next few weeks.”
Gov. J.B. Pritzker also mentioned the decision in a Saturday media briefing, when he announced similar facilities at the former Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park and MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island would also be put on hold for patient use. A larger alternate care facility being set up at McCormick Place in Chicago is being scaled back by 2,000 beds.
“We’re making them ready so they’re in a kind of state of readiness,” Pritzker said, “but not turned on yet because it does not appear, at least at the moment, that we need them in the near future.”
Kaptain also said plans to move furniture into the renovated Elgin facility was also postponed for the Elgin overflow center, which cost $19 million to renovate.
If and when the buildings on Center Street open, they will have enough beds to accommodate up to 275 patients.
Kaptain said he saw the decision to delay as a positive in that may signal the state’s social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home order have successfully slowed the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19. According to the Illinois Department of Health, 72% of ICU beds and 37% of ventilators were in use at northwest suburban hospitals over the weekend. Read more here. —Rafael Guerrero
4:01 p.m.: Chicago releases new ‘COVID Coach’ app to help people track symptoms, find testing sites
The city of Chicago has launched a new “COVID Coach” web app to help residents track their coronavirus symptoms and learn about testing sites. The app is accessible at chicago.gov/covidcoach, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said on Monday.
Lightfoot called the free app “a new tool to get ahead of the game when it comes to monitoring their symptom progression” but said it’s no substitute for following stay-at-home order rules and social distancing.
Public health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said it’s free and the information will only be accessed by the city’s public health department, not Google, which helped create the app.
It also will be a tool to connect residents to testing and testing information, including alerting users when antibody testing is available in the future, Arwady said. Read more here. —Gregory Pratt and John Byrne
3:53 p.m.: Camps, all other in-person Girl Scout activities in Chicago area canceled through mid-August
The Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana announced Monday all activities are canceled through the summer as a result of uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There are just too many unknowns, and too many concerns about everyone’s health and safety, to proceed with business as usual this summer,” CEO Nancy Wright said in a statement.
All in-person activities including day and resident camp sessions have been canceled through Aug. 14. The organization added that it plans to launch virtual experiences, including backyard camping, for girl scouts to participate in the summer.
“While right now Girl Scouting looks radically different than what we’re used to, our spirits, sense of adventure, and commitment to serve our girls remain higher than ever,” the statement said in part. —Jessica Villagomez
3:46 p.m.: Insurance giant Aon to cut most employees’ pay 20% as CEO predicts economic recovery from COVID-19 may take years
Aon is cutting most employees’ pay 20% in response to the coronavirus pandemic, as the global insurance giant prepares for a “significant and sustained economic downturn.”
Greg Case, Aon’s CEO, sent a memo to employees Monday outlining the pay cuts and other cost-savings strategies, while laying out a bleak forecast for the global economy in the wake of a “humanitarian tragedy” wrought by COVID-19.
“While we hold on to glimmers of hope that the worst of the human impact may have passed, the economic consequences are likely to play out for months, or even years to come,” Case said in the memo, which was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Aon, which shifted its global headquarters from Chicago to London in 2012, generated $11 billion in revenue last year, according to SEC filings. The company had nearly 48,000 employees worldwide at the end of 2019. Read more here. —Robert Channick
2:40 p.m.: Pritzker defends decisions as officials report 1,980 new known COVID-19 cases and 50 additional deaths
Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday defended his decisions to curb the spread of the new coronavirus with a message aimed downstate, saying once again that the highly contagious illness knows no regional boundaries.
He highlighted downstate Jasper and Monroe counties, with are among the two highest counties in the state with deaths per capita.
It’s “indisputable” that Cook County and the collar counties account for much of the known presence of the new coronavirus in the state, “but it would be doing a massive disservice to our downstate residents if we governed only by raw numbers,” he said during his daily briefing in Chicago.
“I’ve made each decision with a laser-like focus on the health and safety of every resident and with a strong desire to get us back to work and school as soon as it’s safe,” Pritzker said.
That message came as Pritzker has faced pushback from some Republican lawmakers over his statewide stay-at-home order, including a lawsuit filed by GOP state Rep. Darren Bailey last week after Pritzker announced a modified order would extend until May 30.
Officials announced 1,980 new known cases of COVID-19 Monday, including 50 additional deaths. The statewide total of known cases now stands at 45,883 in 96 counties, and the death toll is 1,983. —Jamie Munks
2:15 p.m.: Oak Park bans all public events through end of June
The village of Oak Park announced all large public events within its boundaries have been prohibited through the end of June.
The announcement came Friday evening from village public health director Mike Charley, who said the goal is to eliminate pathways for the spread of COVID-19.
Among the events now banned are sidewalk sales, theatrical productions, sporting events and Oak Park’s annual A Day in Our Village celebration.
The official order bans all special events and public gatherings of 10 or more people scheduled for May and June. Among those prohibited events includes markets, ceremonies, celebrations, shows, festivals, exhibitions, pageants and theatrical productions. Read more here. —Steve Schering
2:08 p.m.: Chicago mayor says she could see baseball played this summer — minus the fans
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she can imagine baseball being played in Chicago this summer but it would probably be without fans.
An avowed White Sox fan, Lightfoot said the decision over whether professional sports will come back is going to be made “at the league level” but said she could imagine baseball being played over the summer.
But she added, “Is it likely to be without fans? Probably.” —Gregory Pratt
2:02 p.m.: CPS principals’ group says schools need more masks, sanitizer, PPE
A group representing Chicago Public Schools administrators is demanding more support from the district during the coronavirus closures, including personal protective equipment for all school staff still on site.
“Despite CPS’s failures to keep its school leaders safe, principals with underlying medical conditions continue to courageously interact with hundreds of people to distribute computer devices and keep their schools open for food distribution,” reads a petition created by the Chicago Principal and Administrators Association.
Most principals, who have been in schools to oversee device distribution and meal handouts, say the district has not provided them adequate personal protective equipment, said CPAA President Troy LaRaviere. Read more here. —Hannah Leone
1:37 p.m.: Many essential workers in Chicago are people of color, live in lower-income neighborhoods: new analysis
A disproportionately high number of essential worker jobs in the Chicago area are held by people of color and those who live in lower-income neighborhoods, according to a new analysis by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.
The analysis categorized essential workers by using 12 occupation categories released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The categories include employees who work in healthcare support, building and ground maintenance, transportation and construction, to name a few.
“This is our first pass at trying to take a look at a regional level at who our essential workers are,” an agency official said. Read more here. —Jessica Villagomez
1:32 p.m.: Chicago tortilla maker El Milagro temporarily closes plant for cleaning after one worker dies from coronavirus
El Milagro, a Chicago-based tortilla maker, told employees over the weekend it will close its facility on Western Avenue for two weeks to sanitize the plant after one worker died and others tested positive for the new coronavirus.
The company hired an outside janitorial business to sanitize and deep clean the facility. Employees who are scheduled to work at the plant during the next two weeks will continue to be paid for 40 hours a week, El Milagro said in a letter to its employees.
Last week, the company was notified that a longtime sanitation employee died due to complications from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, El Milagro said. The employee had not been at work since April 9. Read more here. —Abdel Jimenez
1:28 p.m.: Lightfoot says weekend house party on social media still under investigation
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she believes a crowded house party broadcast on social media over the weekend was on Chicago’s West Side but couldn’t yet confirm the location as it remains under investigation.
The party looked to her like “hundreds” of people standing “literally cheek to jowl.”
“It goes against all the things we’ve been talking about,” Lightfoot said Monday at her daily news conference.
Lightfoot said “everybody involved in that bears a level of responsibility” for a party she said was “foolish and reckless.”
“Every single person there who put themselves at risk puts the next person and the next person that they come into contact with at risk,” Lightfoot said. Read more here. —Gregory Pratt and John Byrne
1:17 p.m.: Business executive group to hold telethon to raise money for Chicago charities fighting COVID-19 fallout
A new group, the Chicago CEO COVID-19 Coalition, is corralling local business leaders to aid Chicago charities providing hunger relief, shelter or counseling programs.
“I am challenging the business leaders of Chicago and their companies to join with me in the charge to help the people in need in our city,” said John Koudounis, a founding member of the coalition and CEO of Calamos Investments, in a release.
In an effort to raise money, the coalition will be holding a telethon called “Sweet Home Chicago” on May 16 that will be live-streamed on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube, the coalition said in a press release.
Comedian, actor and Chicago native Deon Cole will host the telethon.
Chicago charities that will receive donations are: the Greater Chicago Food Depository; the Salvation Army Metropolitan Division; the Night Ministry; Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Chicago; Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago; Jewish United Fund; and Metropolitan Family Services, according to the release.
“I am asking Chicago’s business leaders to walk with me in this effort,” Koudounis said. “If not, now, when? Now is the time for all of us who can, to participate in this fight. We can all come together as a family to bring our city back.” —Javonte Anderson
12:37 p.m.: After initially backing federal aid to states, Trump questions ‘bailing out poorly run states’ like Illinois
As talk in Washington has swiftly moved to the next coronavirus relief package, President Donald Trump on Monday questioned whether federal taxpayers should provide money of “poorly run” states and cities run by Democrats, specifically citing Illinois.
“Why should the people and taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states (like Illinois, as example) and cities, in all cases Democrat run and managed, when most of the other states are not looking for bailout help?” Trump asked on Twitter.
“I am open to discussing anything, but just asking,” the president added.
Trump’s question was a reversal from late last week when, after the federal Paycheck Protection Program received a new injection of funds, he indicated support for addressing state and local government revenue shortfalls due to the pandemic as part of the next round of relief. Read more here. —Rick Pearson
12:04 p.m.: Illinois repeals controversial worker’s compensation rule that presumed front-line workers with COVID-19 got it on the job
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission on Monday repealed a controversial emergency rule stating that if front-line workers are infected with COVID-19, it would be presumed to be a result of their work duties.
A Sangamon County judge last week issued a temporary restraining order blocking the new rule, which would have granted benefits to workers deemed essential who contracted the new coronavirus. The judge’s order resulted from a lawsuit filed by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association that had the support of more than two dozen business groups.
The commission passed the rule earlier this month expanding workers’ compensation insurance for first responders, health care workers, grocery store employees and some other workers considered “essential” under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s statewide stay-at-home order if they contract COVID-19. Read more here. —Jamie Munks
11:38 a.m.: Lightfoot leads ‘virtual field trips’ to major cultural institutions during coronavirus
It takes clout — and a very compelling reason — to get through the locked doors of the city’s leading cultural institutions in these days of coronavirus-forced closure.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot had both last week when she began a series of “virtual field trips” by visiting Shedd Aquarium for a video shoot.
“It was fantastic. She had a really high level of curiosity,” said Andrea Rodgers, the Shedd’s public relations vice president, who witnessed the shoot on, fittingly, Earth Day. “She asked a ton of great questions, especially of our shark researcher. She put the gloves on and did the feed of all that squishy shark food, no problem.”
The footage is being edited into episode one of a new half-hour video series, called “Stay Home. Hit Play,” an extension of the mayor’s efforts to encourage Chicagoans to remain home in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. Read more here. —Steve Johnson
11:27 a.m.: 10th inmate in Illinois prison dies from a COVID-19-related illness: officials
A 10th inmate in an Illinois prison has died from a COVID-19-related illness, state officials confirm.
They were all men, the youngest in his 40s, and incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center near Joliet.
The two most recent deaths occurred April 20, officials said. One of the men, in his 70s, died at the prison, and was one of two inmates to die inside Stateville and not at a hospital.
No staff members have died from the virus, authorities confirmed, though several have been infected.
The fatalities occurred within a three-week span as state correctional officials said they are working to stop the spread of the virus in prisons across the state.
Prison reform advocates, though, have pressed forward with lawsuits arguing the state has been too slow to respond, putting inmates and staff at further risk.
As of Monday, the Illinois Department of Corrections confirmed nonfatal virus cases in about 16 of its nearly four dozen facilities. The problem at Stateville is particularly dire. Most of the 147 staff and 153 inmates who tested positive statewide are located there.
The majority of the staff and inmates have recovered, according to IDOC data.
The state is not making public the names of the victims, but the Tribune so far has identified more than half through interviews with families and prison reform advocates and a review of other available public records. Their offenses include murder and child sexual assault. —Christy Gutowski
10:52 a.m.: Coronavirus victims tell their stories to dispel fear, stigma. Experts warn that some minority patients are being blamed for getting sick.
South Holland resident Ledgure Herron Jr. got out of COVID-19 quarantine Wednesday. The 51-year-old pastor said he was admitted to University of Chicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Harvey the first week in April. He remembers having a cough, but no fever. He remembers getting oxygen and he uses terms like “terrible” and “overwhelming to the mind” when referring to his illness.
“While I was ill, I had to stop watching breaking news because it was about to break me,” Herron said. “All we see are the numbers going up. We’re not seeing people who made it. People need to know that people are surviving it. They made it, and I can make it.”
Nicole Chelsey-Howard, 38, of Chicago, likened enduring COVID-19 to “having a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week asthma attack.”
“Some points of the day, I just cried,” said the 15-year medical assistant who tested positive in March. “I’ve never felt that much pain. I have sleep apnea, but I couldn’t sleep with my machine because I felt my breathing was already restricted and putting this mask on my face was making it worse. So I barely slept. It was definitely an experience that I hope I don’t have to deal with again.”
Chelsey-Howard and Herron shared their coronavirus experiences with family members and friends in hopes that the more others know about people living with the virus, the less fear will surround the condition. Read more here. —Darcel Rockett
10:31 a.m.: CDC adds six COVID-19 symptoms to its list, but many doctors, hospitals already had been using them
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added six symptoms to its list of those associated with COVID-19, but doctors say the symptoms weren’t recently discovered and the nation’s top health agency has just updated its list of possible symptoms.
The CDC added the six additional possible symptoms of COVID-19 to three previously listed symptoms. New are: Chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and loss of taste or smell. Previously just fever, cough, and shortness of breath were officially listed as known symptoms.
Dr. Emily Landon, the hospital epidemiologist at the University of Chicago Medical Center, said the hospital long has been using the updated possible symptoms as indicators of COVID-19, including on official documents aimed at the hospital’s own health care workers, so they could seek care if presenting with symptoms less obvious than fever, cough, or shortness of breath.
“We’ve been using all of these for a long time,” Landon said, adding that she’s pleased the CDC updated its list because it may encourage more people, or those with varied or less common symptoms, to seek medical care. Read more here. —Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas
10 a.m.: Farmers markets in some suburbs this year ‘won’t be the leisurely experience people are used to’
Local farmers markets in Park Ridge, Morton Grove, Skokie and elsewhere plan to be back this summer, but they won’t be the community gathering spots that shoppers are used to.
No crowds, no dogs and no handling of produce by customers before it is purchased are among new guidelines adopted by organizers of the Park Ridge Farmers Market and the new Morton Grove French Market as they prepare to open for the 2020 season.
The guidelines, aimed at preventing COVID-19 infection and encouraging social distancing, were established and recommended by the Illinois Farmers Market Association, which provides resources, training and other support services to markets across the state.
This summer, with the COVID-19 pandemic in the forefront, farmers markets will need to change from “community gathering spaces” to “in-and-out markets,” the ILFMA announced.
“This is not a family event like it used to be,” said Leslie Cahill, general manager of The French Market, which is now organizing Morton Grove’s outdoor farmers market at 6140 W. Dempster St. Read more here. —Jennifer Johnson
9:51 a.m.: Federal judge orders additional social distancing measures at Cook County Jail
A federal judge on Monday issued a preliminary injunction mandating additional social distancing measures to battle the spread of coronavirus at the Cook County Jail, including banning double-inmate cells and group housing in most cases.
In an 87-page order, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly gave the sheriff’s office until Friday to implement new plans eliminating “bullpens” to house new inmates being processed into the jail, providing face masks to all detainees under quarantine, and regularly sanitizing “all frequently touched surfaces and objects.”
Double-inmate cells will be permitted only in certain situations — such as on tiers where inmates are quarantined after testing positive for COVID-19 or are on suicide or other medical watch, Kennelly ruled. The judge also wrote that dormitory-style tiers can only be used if they are at less than 50% capacity, so the 6-foot distancing rule can be better enforced.
The ruling came as part of an ongoing lawsuit filed by the Loevy and Loevy law firm and the MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University alleging Sheriff Tom Dart has failed to stop a “rapidly unfolding public health disaster” at the jail, which has been identified as one of the nations’ leading hot spots for coronavirus infections. Read more here. —Jason Meisner
9:22 a.m.: The law denies stimulus checks to Americans married to immigrants in the U.S. illegally. An Illinois man alleges that’s discrimination.
An Illinois man has sued President Donald Trump over a provision of the coronavirus relief package that could deny $1,200 stimulus checks to more than 1 million Americans married to immigrants without Social Security Numbers.
The suit was filed Friday by an Illinois man using the pseudonym John Doe, who seeks to represent all others in his position. Doe claims the relief package discriminates against him “based solely on whom he chose to marry.”
The $2 trillion coronavirus relief Act, approved by Congress last month, provides $1,200 payments to U.S. taxpayers who earn as much as $75,000 — plus $500 for each child. But to be eligible, both spouses in families that file joint tax returns must have Social Security numbers — unless one of them is a member of the military.
That leaves 1.2 million Americans ineligible, according to the lawsuit filed in federal court in Chicago. The lawsuit cites the Migration Policy Institute, which says on its website that’s how many “unauthorized” immigrants in the U.S. are married to Americans. Read more here. —Bloomberg News
8:04 a.m.: New poll shows rising support for mail-in voting due to coronavirus concerns, but Trump’s opposition resonating with GOP voters
Americans’ support for mail-in voting has jumped amid concerns about the safety of polling places during the coronavirus pandemic, but a wide partisan divide suggests President Donald Trump’s public campaign against vote by mail may be resonating with his Republican backers.
A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds Democrats are now much more likely than Republicans to support their state conducting elections exclusively by mail, 47% to 29%.
In 2018, about half as many Democrats were in favor, and there was little difference in the views of Democrats and Republicans on the question.
The survey also found a partisan divide on support for no-excuse absentee voting, the system in place in most states, including almost all the top presidential battlegrounds, even as a majority of Americans say they favor that practice. Read more here. —Associated Press
6:45 a.m.: Chicago health department launching app to communicate with those with COVID-19, prepare for vaccinations
Chicago was scheduled to launch an app Monday to communicate with people with the novel coronavirus or symptoms of the virus and allow people to pre-register to receive a COVID-19 vaccine if it becomes available, according to a news release.
The app, Chi COVID Coach, was developed with Google and MTX Group Inc., and will be used by the Chicago Department of Public Health to help guide people with symptoms to the proper coronavirus treatment, as well as alerting people to where COVID-19 testing is available and when a vaccine might be ready, according to the release.
“Registration for the app is free and information will be protected and only used by CDPH for public health purposes related to COVID-19,” according to the release.
Although the app is being billed as “the first of its kind,” according to the release, other jurisdictions, including Georgia, are using apps designed by the partnership between Google and Texas-based MTX for COVID-19 contact tracing, according to MTX and news reports. Contact tracing allows health officials to figure out who might have been in contact with people with a disease such as the new coronavirus and have them seek treatment or quarantine as needed, to help slow the spread of the disease.
The app and more information can be found on the city’s website. —Tribune staff
6 a.m.: Coronavirus school shutdown has been particularly tough on kids with disabilities: ‘It’s not just a disruption. We’re going to see kids who actually go backward.’
The shutdown of schools across Illinois — now extended for the rest of the academic year — has created particular hardships for families of students with disabilities. Some students are paired with full-time aides at school or get speech or physical therapy, roles that aren’t easily filled by parents who are also figuring out remote learning, working from home or dealing with their own economic challenges.
“The school closures have been hurtful to all kids, but students with disabilities are most vulnerable, and tend to react badly to transitions,” said Chicago attorney Matt Cohen, who represents families with special education and school-related issues.
“For special education students, school closures are not just a disruption but a regression, and we’re going to see kids who actually go backward,” Cohen said.
Even during normal times, the quality of special education in the Chicago area ranges from excellent to poor, often depending on a district’s leadership and funding, Cohen said. He predicted the recent pivot to remote learning will likely have a negative effect on most students with special education plans. Read more here. —Hannah Leone and Karen Ann Cullotta
6 a.m.: Refugees try to make new start in Chicago as COVID-19 upends daily life: ‘Once we get back to the normal life, we want to walk freely’
Like many practicing social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, Farhan Ali has turned to Netflix.
But Ali, 21, isn’t just watching for entertainment. He’s improving his English. About a month ago, his family arrived in the United States from Pakistan as refugees. Though they’re from Afghanistan, they’d fled to Pakistan out of fear of persecution by the Taliban. They spent their first week here living with his oldest sister in suburban Aurora.
“We went to Millennium Park,” Ali said by phone, recalling his first week in Chicago. “We’ve never been that much happy and free.”
But within two weeks of their arrival, Ali and his family were under a stay-at-home order like the rest of the state, as cases of COVID-19 continued to climb. Resettlement organizations have spent weeks helping refugees navigate unemployment benefits while others deemed essential workers have continued working. Recently resettled refugees like Ali are learning how to navigate their new country online from their new homes. Read more here. —Elvia Malagón and Nausheen Husain
Here are five things that happened this weekend that you need to know: