December 2021 Leading News

In today’s Leading News, COVID-19 surges again, experts assess vaccines now that they are available to school-age children, and the test-to-stay program in Lake County schools gets headline treatment in the CDC’s noted weekly report.
Remote learning makes a comeback as schools enter another holiday break with COVID-19 surging
Tracy Swartz, Joe Mahr, and Tatyana Turner, Chicago Tribune, December 18
Illinois public health director warns of 'deadly COVID Christmas and New Year's'
Ken DeCoster, Rockford Register Star, December 17
Evaluation of Test to Stay Strategy on Secondary and Tertiary Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in K–12 Schools
MMWR, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, December 17
New CDC reports find "test to stay" policies can help children stay in school, but barriers exist
Max Bayer, CBS News, December 17
After one year, how are the suburbs and Illinois doing in vaccinations?
Jake Griffin, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, December 15

In today’s Leading News, CPS encourages at-home coronavirus testing. Bloomington SD 87 takes action on a public comment incident. Illinois teachers join the call for school security in the wake of the Oxford, Michigan shooting. Changing start times works out well in Woodstock CUSD 200. Also in the news, community holiday spirit finds Quincy SD 172 elementary school kids.
CPS sending 150K COVID test kits home with students as cases rise in district
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, December 15
District 87 board bans Clinton man for 'profane, threatening' language at board meeting
Kelsey Watznauer, Bloomington Pantagraph, December 14
In wake of Michigan shooting, Illinois teachers union urges schools to take precautions
Megan Valley, Belleville News-Democrat, December 16
New Woodstock District 200 school start times improve student attendance, relieve shorthanded bus drivers, officials say
Sam Lounsberry, Northwest Herald, Chicago suburbs, December 5
Club makes Christmas merrier for Quincy first-graders
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, December 14

In today’s Leading News, families seek change in the state’s residential care system. Decatur SD 61 aims for a “reset” on discipline issues in the new year. Some Peoria Public Schools teachers change their minds about the district’s new calendar. Legislators discuss timing and frequency of standardized tests. Also in the news, an ADA settlement leads to a planned accessible playground in Dunlap CUSD 323.
Families plead for more residential care options for children with severe developmental disabilities
Mitch Dudek, Chicago Sun-Times, December 14
Citing discipline issues, Decatur schools to 'reset' in January
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, December 14
After initial doubts, Peoria teachers happy with test run of modified school calendar
Leslie Renken, Peoria Journal Star, December 14
Lawmakers concerned about plan to increase frequency of standardized tests
Madhu Krishnamurthy, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, December 15
DOJ, Dunlap school district reach agreement to provide fully accessible elementary school playground
Jason Howell, WEEK, Peoria, December 7

In today’s Leading News, there’s continuing legal action on vaccine mandates. CPS reaches a settlement after disproportionate layoffs of Black educators last decade. School districts assess last week’s ISBE data. Also in the news, Macomb CUSD discusses renaming a school after civil rights leader C.T. Vivian.

Five District 186 teachers, employees among plaintiffs in class action lawsuit filed Monday
Steven Spearie, State Journal-Register, December 13

Fired Black educators reach $9.25M settlement with CPS
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, December 13

For Northwest suburban school leaders, report card data during pandemic comes with asterisk
Eric Peterson, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, December 11

How did COVID-19 affect attendance in southwest Illinois schools last year?
Megan Valley, Belleville News-Democrat, December 7

Proposal to rename school in honor of C.T. Vivian
Rich Egger, Tri States Public Radio, December 9
In today’s Leading News, school districts in Illinois work with employment questions and concerns.

Lake County schools hire more staff to curb pandemic decline
Doug T. Graham, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, December 11

Union president says teachers in Thornton 205 ‘traumatized’ by jump in school violence
Mike Nolan, Daily Southtown, December 9

District 303 board OKs more than $2 million in appreciation bonuses for employees
Shaw Media/Daily Herald, December 14

School Board, union set to begin contract talks
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, December 8

Dist. 203 school board approves contract with support workers
Kevin Schmit, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, December 8

In today’s Leading News, school districts move in to, and in some cases out of, adaptive pauses and remote learning.

Spike in COVID-19 cases sends Tri-City school district into remote learning
Steven Spearie, State Journal-Register, Springfield, December 8

3 more central Illinois schools go remote
Sydney Dorner, WICS, December 10

River Ridge continues COVID shutdown
Brandon Behlke, Galena Gazette, December 6

Parkview School and LaSalle Elementary School closing through Dec. 17 due to COVID-19
Sheridan Hurtig, WMBD, Peoria, December 9

Chicago Public Schools agrees to more protections at South Side elementary after teachers go remote
Mauricio Pena, Chalkbeat Chicago, December 10
In today’s Leading News, the omicron variant of coronavirus arrives in Illinois. School districts seek to provide mental health supports. The US Supreme Court may weigh in on public school funds for religious schools. The Fighting Scots join the effort to fill substitute teacher spots in local districts. Also in the news, Chicago’s last farm offers historical and practical lessons.
Omicron variant detected in Chicago becomes first case in Illinois
Jake Griffin, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, December 8
After recent violent threats to schools, experts say mental health resources there for students
Steven Spearie, State Journal-Register, Springfield, December 9
Supreme Court appears to suggest religious schools in Maine are OK to receive state tuition aid
Associated Press/Chicago Tribune, December 8
Monmouth College students to work as short-term substitute teachers
Galesburg Register-Mail, December 8
Chicago’s last farm — now also a high school — celebrates 175 years: ‘An important thing to maintain’
Tracy Swartz, Chicago Tribune, December 9
In today’s Leading News, CPS charter schools seek contract extensions, amid questions. Coal City CUSD 1 approves farm lease and tax levy. Evanston SD 65 looks to welcome retired teachers back, as subs. Champaign CUSD 4 addresses recent security threats. Also in the news, students puzzle over Bureau Valley CUSD 340’s new club.
CPS promised more details on charter school finances. The effort might rate the district a C+.
Adriana Cardona-Maguigad, WBEZ, Chicago, December 8
Coal City School Board Approves Farm Lease Agreement
Justin Ritz, WCSJ, Joliet, December 6
District 65 looking to bring back retirees as subs
Jeff Hirsh, Evanston Now, December 7
'I just want to go home': Central students exhausted after lockdown, gun scare
Ethan Simmons, Champaign News-Gazette, December 4
Bureau Valley North puzzle club is a hit
Shaw Media/Bureau County Republican, December 6
In today’s Leading News, a multi-part commentary in Education Week includes Illinois voices on discussing racism. Officials respond to tension and threats, and the conversation continues in the wake of last week’s school shooting in Michigan. Also in the news, a Champaign CUSD 4 anti-bullying club offers promise.

Anti-Racist Teaching Strategies for Predominantly White Schools
Larry Ferlazzo, Education Week, December 4

Illinois school district, parents form new partnership to defuse tensions
Roseanne Tellez, Fox 32, Chicago, December 7

Police say threatening messages found in Mount Zion school
Decatur Herald and Review, November 5

School shootings: It's hard to spot the warning signs. Prevention steps can help
National Public Radio, December 5

Elementary school's new anti-bullying club making waves
Anthony Zilis, Champaign News-Gazette, November 24
In today’s Leading News, Oak Park-River Forest HSD 200 cancels a plan to cancel extracurricular activities. St. Charles CUSD 303 clarifies its policy for public participation. Decatur SD 61 aims for improved bus routes. Peoria Public Schools redraws its voting districts. Also in the news, a classroom visitor creates a buzz in Dalzell SD 98.

Oak Park-River Forest school officials rescind decision to cancel athletics due to COVID-19 transmission rates
Sylvia Goodman, Chicago Tribune, December 5

District 303 board looks to make public participation rules for meetings less confusing
Eric Schelkopf, Shaw Media/Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, November 30

Decatur Public Schools to alter bus routes in January
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, December 3

Peoria Public Schools Board votes unanimously to amend the voting districts
Kyle Beachy, WEEK, Peoria, November 22

To be a fly in the classroom: Fly’s visit sparks creative projects for Dalzell Grade School students
Jayce Eustice, LaSalle County News-Tribune, December 7
In today’s Leading News, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has signed Faith’s Law. Bloomington SD 87 deals with disruption at school board meetings. Districts big and small look at report cart data. Also in the news, a “Chopped” competition is cooked up by Clinton CUSD 15.

‘Faith’s Law’ looks to protect Illinois students from grooming, sexual abuse
WIFR, Rockford, December 3

District 87 chief seeks to ban critic from school property for threatening tirade after board meeting
Howard Packowitz, WEEK, Peoria, December 2

CPS test scores dropped during pandemic, mirroring statewide trend, new data shows
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, December 2

Building-wide emphasis on reading gives East Coloma-Nelson a lift
Troy E. Taylor, Sauk Valley News, December 2

Clinton High School students hold their own 'Chopped' competition
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, December 3

In today’s Leading News, Illinois student assessment data get today’s headlines.
Report Card: Decatur schools don't wait for state tests to take action
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, December 2
Find out how your schools are doing on state report card
Madhu Krishnamurthy, Shaw Media/Daily Herald Media Group, December 2
State data gives snapshot of Coles County students
Connor Wood, Journal Gazette and Times Courier, Charleston/Mattoon, December 2
Illinois releases district-level data for school report cards showing declines across all demographics. Many students didn’t take the test.
Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune, December 3
Chicago’s youngest learners struggled on state exams, highlighting the pandemic’s impact
Susie An, WBEZ, Chicago, December 2

In today’s Leading News, school districts continue to consider the safety and security of students, and a fourth victim has died and a student charged in the school shooting in Michigan.
Champaign school board may vote on contract for metal detectors at 2 high schools in December
Debra Pressey, Champaign News-Gazette, November 30
'We have to start an open dialogue': School, law leaders discuss District 203 and 204 security
Kevin Schmit, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, December 1
District 186 will roll out anonymous tip system this week
Jordan Elder, WICS, Springfield, November 29
Michigan teen charged in Oxford High School shooting that killed 4 students; parents called to school hours before attack
Corey Williams and Ed White, Associated Press/Chicago Tribune, December 1
Why was Michigan suspect charged with terrorism?
David Eggert, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 1

In today’s Leading News, a shooting at a Michigan high school leaves three dead, others injured. CPS considers a pilot program to test unvaccinated students for coronavirus, and Edwardsville SD 7 looks at coronavirus numbers. Bradley-Bourbonnais CHSD 307 checks in on mandates. Also in the news, the Unity brings communities together in CUSD 7 (Tolono).

Oxford High School shooting leaves 3 dead, multiple injured
Detroit Free Press, Updated December 1

Unvaccinated students can test their way out of COVID-19 quarantine in new Chicago Public Schools pilot program
Tracy Swartz, Chicago Tribune, November 30

District 7 talks COVID-19 cases, testing
Julie Laakko Swanson, Edwardsville Intelligencer, November 29

BBCHS pushes for 'local control' in school decisions
Stephanie Markham, Kankakee Daily Journal, November 29

71 years after consolidation, Unity towns act as one
By Anthony Zilis, Champaign News-Gazette, November 26

Leading News

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