Schools closed for rest of academic year as state announces 62 more COVID-19 deaths
More than 7,500 tested for virus in past 24 hours; daily case count highest thus far
By JERRY NOWICKI
Capitol News Illinois
Schools will not return for in-person learning this academic year as Gov. JB Pritzker announced Friday that remote learning will continue for all pre-k through 12th grade students.
“I’ve said time and time again, our decisions must follow the science and the science says our students can’t go back to their normal routine this school year,” Pritzker said.
The announcement came the same day the Illinois Department of Public Health announced 1,842 new cases of novel coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, in Illinois, including 62 additional deaths. The new cases were the most in a single day in the state.
The virus is now confirmed in 92 of 102 counties as Henderson and Wayne counties reported their first cases. IDPH has now confirmed 27,575 cases including 1,134 deaths in the state.
A total of 130,163 have now been tested for the virus, an increase of 7,574 from Thursday.
“Please, for people who are experiencing illness and want to get tested, I do want to alert that we do have increased testing capacity,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said.
She said those looking to get tested should visit dph.illinois.gov\COVID19 to find sites where testing is happening.
Illinois Federation of Teachers applauds move
Westmont — Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery released the following statement after Governor J.B. Pritzker announced there would be no more in-person instruction for the remainder of the year due to COVID-19:
“We applaud Governor Pritzker‘s bold and compassionate leadership during these difficult times. Closing school buildings for the rest of the year is the right thing to do. As we have seen, no one is immune to COVID-19 and this will ensure the safety of our teachers, staff, students, and community.
“Under these difficult circumstances and with limited resources, educators have been doing what they love – teaching and engaging our children remotely while adjusting to the new normal. As this pandemic has made abundantly clear, there are vast economic, educational and healthcare disparities existing in our poorest communities, especially in our Black and Brown communities. Many of our students lack laptops and internet access, which prevents them from learning. This is compounded with economic insecurity. As educators and unionists, we remain committed to working with our members, elected officials, and policy advocates to address these inequalities and level the playing field for our working and lower-income students and families.
“Local unions and members of the Illinois Federation of Teachers will support students and their families in every way possible during this time.”
The Illinois Federation of Teachers represents 103,000 teachers and paraprofessionals in PreK-12 school districts throughout Illinois, faculty and staff at Illinois’ community colleges and universities, public employees under every statewide elected constitutional officer, and retirees.
Hotspot map released
Illinois state agencies released a wi-fi hotspot map today to help students across the state who lack internet access in their homes. The effort was spearheaded by the Illinois Board of Higher Education along with the Illinois State Board of Education, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the Department of Innovation and Technology, the Office of the Secretary of State Illinois State Library, and the Illinois Community College Board.
“The Illinois Board of Higher Education embarked on a collaborative project to identify public locations across the state where students could tap into free internet access,” said IBHE Executive Director Ginger Ostro. “It’s key to helping our state’s students to ‘attend’ class, use video and conference calling, conducting research, emailing assignments, and more.”
Thousands of Illinois students are participating in e-learning during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As of April 15th, the wi-fi map has 200 hotspots students can use to complete coursework. Students and their parents or guardians should continue to practice social distancing by remaining in their cars while utilizing the hotspots. If a student or caretaker is sick or experiencing symptoms, they should remain at home.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the life of every Illinois student but not equally,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “The transition to remote learning has accelerated our efforts to close the digital divide among Illinois students and families. This map is one way to level the playing field in the short-term and to increase access to the tools students and educators need to engage more deeply in remote education.”
Wi-fi hotspots are available at multiple locations around the state including local colleges and libraries