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December 2020 Leading News

In today’s Leading News, school district leadership, staff, and students make positive news as the unusual semester in an unprecedented year draws to a close. Also in the news, “All roads lead to home.”
 
Decatur's school counselors, teachers staying in touch with kids' needs during pandemic
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, December 12
 
Johnsburg High School special needs student discovers artistic passion during remote learning
Sam Lousenberry, Northwest Herald, Chicago suburbs, December 11
 
5 positive stories from Bloomington-Normal schools in 2020
Kelsey Watznauer, Bloomington Pantagraph, December 11
 
U-46 mentorship program for Black boys aims to create leaders
Madhu Krishnamurthy, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, December 12
 
Central A&M students applaud retiring janitor after 34 years of service
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, December 19
 
Bremen High School District Makes 600 Holiday Cards For Seniors
Yasmeen Sheikah, Oak Forest Patch, December 20
 
Unit 4 volunteers pack holiday dinner boxes for families
Taylor Deckert, WCCU, Champaign, December 18
 
Illinois School Bus Driver Reminds Students to Stay Safe With Creativity
Taylor Hannon, School Transportation News, December 18
 
 
In today’s Leading News, School districts assess calendars, enrollments, and learning plans as coronavirus pandemic impacts continue into 2021. Also in the news, a traditional winter break offers a little more in non-traditional times.
 
To help kids post-pandemic, Peoria Public Schools is considering a balanced calendar with more learning days
Leslie Renken, Peoria Journal Star, December 14
 
Some southwest IL school districts are losing students during the COVID pandemic
Megan Valley, Belleville News-Democrat, December 20
 
Champaign elementary schools discuss in-person plans
Anthony Zilis, Champaign News-Gazette, December 12
 
St. Charles school board hears it from residents about in-person learning
Kevin Schmit, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, December 16
 
As schools break for the holidays, there’s little break from anxiety over when and how they will reopen in 2021
Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune, December 21
 
In today’s Leading News, the official filing period ends today for school board candidates for the April 2, 2021 elections. Also in the news, school districts map out their plans for returning to learning in January and beyond.
 
Filing deadline at 5 p.m. Monday for candidates in April consolidated election
Steven Spearie, State Journal-Register, December 20
 
Few school board races contested, so far, in Kane, McHenry counties
Susan Sarkauskas, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, December 15
 
Litchfield Schools Finish First Semester In Person
Mary (Galer) Herschelmanm, Hillsboro Journal-News, December21
 
BBCHS plans to lengthen school day in 2nd semester
Stephanie Markham, Kankakee Daily Journal, December 17
 
H-F High School plans return to in-person learning for students on Feb. 2
Marilyn Thomas, Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle, December 17
 
In today’s Leading News, Chalkbeat looks at education funding in the next Illinois budget. CPS data shows most students won’t return to the classroom when school buildings reopen. Macon County programs held children with remote learning. The filing period for the April 2021 election continues.
 
State budget forecast uncertain, Illinois education leaders weigh $412 million increase for schools
Chalkbeat Chicago, December 16
 
More than 6 in 10 CPS kids — including most students of color — won’t be in schools when in-person learning resumes
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, December 16
 
Educational support program helps foster kids in Macon County navigate remote learning
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, December 16
 
No shortage of school board candidates in some Lake County districts
Doug T. Graham, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, December 15
 
Chicago Public Schools’ reopening plan a step closer to reality after teachers union injunction is denied
Hannah Leone, Chicago Tribune, December 17
 
 

In today’s Leading News, school districts and communities are acting in response to power plant closures. Also in the news, school board candidates in the April 6, 20201 election file their petitions; the filing period runs through December 21.
 
Grand Tower Energy Center has shut down; company releasing few details
Molly Parker, Southern Illinoisan, Carbondale, December15
 
Community members in Illinois fight for nuclear energy plant
Associated Press, Daily Herald, December 5
 
All hands are on deck to save the Byron nuclear plant
Shaquil Manigault, Rockford Register Star, November 29
 
Hillsboro Will Stay The Course 2nd Semester
Mike Plunkett, Hillsboro Journal-News, December 17
 
Reopening debate fuels school board candidacies in Northwest suburbs
Christopher Placek, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, December 15

In today’s Leading News, the Tribune reports on school closure decision-making when a COVID outbreak occurs. The IHSA continues to navigate the school year in sports. Also in the news, the filing period for school board candidates in the April election.  
 
Illinois schools have tallied more than 160 outbreaks of COVID-19. But what happens when they occur, and who decides if a school should close?
Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune, December 15
 
IHSA Board meets, but still tied up by Tier 3
Greg Shashack, Alton Telegraph, December 14
 
IHSA says it will meet with IDPH, Gov. Pritzker's office by end of December
Steven Spearie, State Journal-Register, Springfield, December 15
 
Five candidates file petitions to run for Oswego School District Board seats
Shea Lazansky, Kendall County Now, December 15
 
Numerous candidates file Monday to be on April 6 ballots for Macon County school boards
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, December 14
 

In today’s Leading News, the filing period is underway for school board candidates in the April election. Also in the news, districts and constituencies discuss the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.
 
Election filings begin for village, school boards
Jennifer Bailey, Danville Commercial-News, December14
 
Filing begins for park board, school board, SMEAA candidates
Steven Spearie, State Journal-Register, December 14
 
Illinois teachers union calls for immediate school closures as COVID-19 cases grow
Scott Hilyard, Journal Star, Peoria, December 12
 
Legal and financial liability cited as District 64 parents ask why schools remain closed
Jennifer Johnson, Pioneer Press/Park Ridge Herald Advocate, December 11
 
RPS 205 updates attendance boundaries for 2021-2022 school year, multiple schools impacted
Andrew Carrigan, WREX, Rockford, December 11

In today’s Leading News, as the first wave of vaccines begins making its way across the nation, school districts in Illinois continue adaptation to the effects wrought by the coronavirus.
 
Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Monday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area as vaccine distribution set to begin
Chicago Tribune, December 14
 
High School business class rethinks program amid COVID concerns
Isaac Smith, Southern Illinoisan, Carbondale, December 10
 
Galena schools offer COVID testing: Officials hope faster results will help with fewer quarantined staff and students
Hillary Dickerson, Galena Gazette, December 7
 
Belleville high schools announce plan to return to hybrid learning in mid-January
Megan Valley, Belleville News-Democrat, December 11
 
CPS has no plans to reduce screen time for remote learners, despite complaints
Nader Issa and Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun-Times, December 9

In today’s Leading News, it takes a district: responsibilities extend to students’ physical, social, and emotional welfare, as well as their educational needs and even – especially – in the midst of pandemic.
 
1 million meals delivered for Decatur Public School students and counting
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review,  December 1

Illinois Central School Bus marking driver milestones
Kerry Smith, Alton Telegraph,  November 27, 2020 
 
Nurses play vital, and very different, role amid COVID-19 in keeping kids in school
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, November 28
 
Collinsville HS co-counselor tailors approach to students’ situations
Charles Bolinger Alton Telegraph, December 7
 
5 Things We've Learned About Virtual School In 2020
Anya Kamanetz, Morning Edition, NPR, December 4
 
School employees should be a priority in COVID-19 vaccine rollout, say Illinois teachers unions, which also seek rapid testing in schools
Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune, December 8

In today’s Leading News, school districts hear from communities and remote learning, COVID-19 testing, safety measures, and more.
 
Naperville District 203 parents deluge school board with letters demanding students return to in-person classes
Rafael Guerrero, Naperville Sun, December 8
 
Schools react to Remote Learning 2.0
Dylan Suttles, Alton Telegraph, December 8
 
Glencoe District 35 to require negative COVID-19 test before students, staff can return to in-person learning
Daniel I. Dorfman, Pioneer Press/Glencoe News, December 8
 
Eager to have students return, school board reiterates preference for safety measures
Steven Spearie, State Journal-Register, Springfield, December 7  
 
CPS reopening plan so far: What you need to know about when and how Chicago schools will welcome students back
Hannah Leone, Chicago Tribune, December 1
 

In today’s Leading News, Illinois school districts discuss at set the annual tax levy. Also in the news, reports say school-age children skipping vaccines could add to the nation’s health crisis.
 
Rock Island schools approve 2020 tax levy
Nicole Lauer, Quad Cities Dispatch-Argus, December 8
 
District 220 expects hike in property tax levy
Elena Ferrarin, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, November 18
 
McHenry High School District 156, Harrison School District 36 set to raise property tax levies
Sam Lousenberry, Northwest Herald, Chicago suburbs, December 7
 
Bradley Elementary School Board set for public hearing, vote on 2020 tax levy
Stephanie Markham, Kankakee Daily Journal, December 7
 
Millions of kids are skipping vaccines this year, Blue Cross study finds.
‘The U.S. is on the precipice of a severe immunization crisis.’

Nara Schoenberg, Chicago Tribune, November 18
 

In today’s Leading News, read two takes on ISBE’s effort to assess teacher preparation programs. School districts feel the heat from their communities as coronavirus pandemic decision-making continues.   
 
Illinois will start grading its teacher prep programs
Samantha Smylie, Chalkbeat Chicago, December 7
 
Interactive Report Shows How Well Colleges Are Preparing Future Teachers & The Quest For Equity
Peter Medlin, Northern Public Radio, DeKalb, December 7
 
'Our kids are the sacrifices': Parents push schools to open
Sara Cline, Associated Press/report For America, Alton Telegraph, December 6
 
As grades and attendance slip, CPS places hopes on schools reopening, citing risk of ‘losing an entire generation of students’
Hannah Leone, Chicago Tribune, November 18
 
Morton School Board Balks At Winter Sports 'Pause'
Tim Shelley, Peoria Public Radio, November 18

In today’s Leading News, the work of boards of education is ongoing, from pre-pandemic times to today.
 
State finances could put school districts in precarious situations
Marilyn Thomas, Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle, December 1
 
Hinsdale school board, in compliance with lawsuit settlement, gets a lesson on freedom of speech
Kimberly Fornek, Pioneer Press/The Doings of Hinsdale, November 11
 
Blueprint for change or another blow to North Lawndale?
Hannah Leone, Chicago Tribune, November 30
 
D205 board to review Galesburg High School construction bids Monday
Matt Koester, Galesburg Register-Mail, November 27
 
Committee reviews elective courses, Illinois Report Card
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, November 19
 

In today’s Leading News, new data shows Metro East students making the grade. Bloomington and Normal districts discuss return to in-person learning. The IHSA extends its pause until January. Also in the news, school staff get creative to get through the pandemic.
 
Despite COVID, Illinois students haven’t fallen behind. But how long can that last?
Megan Valley, Belleville News-Democrat, December 3
 
Unit 5 will not return in-person this semester; District 87 to offer hybrid to older students in January
Kelsey Watznauer, Bloomington Pantagraph, December 1
 
IHSA confirms winter sports will not begin until 2021. One coach says, ‘I just think they’re kicking the can down the road.’
Pat Disabato, Daily Southtown, December 2
 
'We all need a break from screens': Barrington school librarian gets creative to deliver books
Elena Ferrarin, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, December 1
 
Nurses play vital, and very different, role amid COVID-19 in keeping kids in school
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, November 28

In today’s Leading News, districts seeks solutions to schooling in a pandemic. Also in the news, Illinois’ new poet laureate, Angela Jackson, hopes to “awaken the poets,” especially the young ones.
 
Citing confidence in saliva-based COVID-19 screening protocol, New Trier to consider expansion of in-person instruction
Karen Ann Cullotta, Pioneer Press/Winnetka Talk, November 30
 
Riverbend schools update education plans due to COVID-19
Dylan Suttles, Alton Telegraph, November 30
 
Stockton hears from concerned parent about sports: Stockton School Board weighs decision on whether or not winter sports will happen
Brandon Behlke, Galena Gazette, November 23
 
Aramark, Shiloh renegotiate
Samantha Tucker, Prairie Press, Paris, November 23
 
Angela Jackson, state’s new poet laureate, hopes to empower children: ‘I want to awaken the poets’
David Struett, Chicago Sun-Times, November 25

In today’s Leading News, school districts finding substitute teachers in short supply. Quincy SD 172 adds a community health worker. A hybrid model is underway in Libertyville SD 70. Also in the news, the Governor JP Pritzker says those who travelled for Thanksgiving should quarantine and get tested, and the Tribune looks at how and where for Chicagoland.
 
With pandemic and sub shortage, southwest IL schools struggling to staff classrooms
Megan Valley, Belleville News-Democrat, December 1
 
Fundraising clears way for QPS to add a community health worker
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, November 30
 
District 70's hybrid model 'feels like coming back to a warm hug'
Paul Valade, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, November 24
 
Illinois governor: If you traveled for Thanksgiving, quarantine and get tested for COVID-19
Jerry Nowicki, CNI/Southern Illinoisan, Carbondale, December 1
 
Need to get tested for COVID-19 during the post-Thanksgiving rush?
Here’s how to find the most convenient and affordable options.
Nara Schoenberg, Chicago Tribune, December 1

In today’s Leading News, “the struggles are mounting” as teachers and administrators discus the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on students. Also in the news, districts make decisions on in-person, hybrid, and remote learning, and school day timing.

Illinois teachers say COVID-19 struggles are mounting and they’re ‘acutely worried about the safety and well-being’ of students
Karen Ann Cullotta and Hannah Leone, Chicago Tribune, November 29

Here's how Fieldcrest schools are tackling failing grades among remote learners
Gary L. Smith, Peoria Journal Star, November 30

Back to school? Districts' post-Thanksgiving plans — some remote, many in-person — written in pencil for now
Jeff D'Alessio, Champaign News-Gazette, November 28

Libertyville, Vernon Hills high schools start hybrid Jan. 19
Mick Zawislak, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, November 24

Kansas school sets earlier dismissal time for pandemic
Gary Henry, Prairie Press, Paris, November 23