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October 2020 Leading News

In today’s Leading News, as a coronavirus surge invokes near-satewide mitigations, schools consider the impacts on students in special education programs. Districts adapt and stay the course. As the state experiences a back-and-forth over the start of girls and boys school basketball seasons, here’s a look at the national high school athletics picture. Also in the news, efforts are underway in Illinois to protect the "gateway bug."
 
Mitigations triggered in 9th of 11 regions as COVID-19 rages
Jerry Nowicki, CNI/Journal Gazette and Times Courier, Charleston/Mattoon, October 20
 
For special education families, an agonizing choice on returning to school: Risk COVID-19 exposure or accept ‘heartbreaking’ limits of remote learning
Hannah Leone and Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune, October 28
 
Kansas schools are adapting to fluid circumstances
Gary Henry, Prairie Press, Paris, October 26
 
Sycamore school board stays the course with return to classroom Nov. 4 despite COVID-19 resurgence
Eddie Carifio DeKalb Daily Chronicle, October 28
 
How are high school sports going in different states? NFHS shares numbers from across US
Eric Ingles, Northwest Herald, October 29
 
Illinois launches statewide plan to boost monarch butterfly population: ‘If enough people get on board, we can turn this thing around’
Morgan Greene, Chicago Tribune, October 23

In today’s Leading News, on Tuesday the state moved basketball to its high-risk category; but on Wednesday IHSA opted to proceed with the season -- and now school boards may make the call. Also in the news, read more on the ins and outs of schooling in 2020.

IHSA defies Gov. Pritzker, says basketball season can start on schedule
Michael O'Brien, Chicago Sun-Times, October 28

IHSA plans for basketball season despite state guidelines
WEEK, Peoria, October 28

Board discusses remote learning as a permanent part of education
Bonnie Morris, Amboy News, October 28

More than 400 Dupo students move to remote learning after two test positive for COVID
Megan Valley, Belleville News-Democrat, October 27

Students enter Unit 4 schools for first time in 7 months
Anthony Zilis, News-Gazette, Champaign, October 28
 

In today’s Leading News, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has announced plans to develop manufacturing education and training centers at community colleges. Quincy SD 172 seeks support to keep kids connected to the classroom through a community health program. Lake Forest CHSD 115 gets pushback from teachers over in-person instruction. Elgin-based U-46 delays a plan for in-person learning. Also in the news, ahead of an IHSA board meeting, the IDPH moved basketball into the high-risk category for COVID-19 transmission, casting doubt on a start to the 2020-2021 seasons.
 
State to fund 2 manufacturing training academies downstate
Peter Hancock, CNI/The Southern Illinoisan, Carbondale, October 27
 
QPS seeks support for community health worker program
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, October 27
 
Lake Forest High School teachers say county health department’s COVID-19 warning being ignored by school board
Karen Ann Cullotta and Daniel I. Dorfman, Chicago Tribune, October 23
 
U-46 won't bring youngest students back next week
Mary Chappell, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, October 22
 
Gov. Pritzker, IDPH dim hopes for high school basketball, wrestling in ’20-21
Bill Welt and Ryan Mahan, State Journal-Register, Springfield, October 27

In today’s Leading News, boards of education and teachers face discussion and disagreement over return-to-school protocols, provisions, and timing. Also in the news, a tragedy in Johnson County draws several school communities together in support. 
 
Teachers had a say in M-S decision
Dave Hinton, News-Gazette, Champaign, October 21
 
Argo teachers, board at odds
Steve Metsch, Suburban Chicagoland, October 25
 
Champaign teachers to hold solidarity rally for teachers returning to in-person instruction
Jen Lask, WCIA, Champaign, October 26
 
Proviso District 209 teachers file unfair labor practices complaint alleging ‘unsafe’ working conditions
Karen Ann Cullotta, Pioneer Press, Forest Park, October 21
 
Community rallies behind families of teens killed, seriously injured in Johnson County crash
Molly Parker, Southern Illinoisan, Carbondale, October 26

In today’s Leading News, a recent change allows students to participate in remote learning without updated vaccinations. The Nokomis CUSD 22 board discusses participation in its special education cooperative. Kankakee SD 111 investigates development of a media program. Lake Zurich CUSD 95 considers boundary changes. Also in the news, Fieldcrest CUSD 6 considers a wind farm proposal.
 
No vaccination? Students still have a shot at learning
Samantha McDaniel-Ogletree, Jacksonville Journal Courier, October 23
 
Nokomis Board Learns One May Opt Out Of NPT
Randy Rieke, Hillsboro Journal-News, October 26
 
KHS looking to start new media program
Stephanie Markham, Kankakee Daily Journal, October 42
 
Lake Zurich school officials say new boundaries would alleviate crowding
Doug T. Graham, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, October 23
 
Fieldcrest banking on wind farms to help pay for school upgrades
Gary L. Smith, Journal Star, Peoria, October 26

In today’s Leading News, parents and students determine deciding factors when there’s an option to return to the classroom. Facilities check: ventilation and filtering systems can reduce coronavirus spread. In LaSalle-Peru THSD 120, students help their communities keep track of the numbers.  Also in the news, read national-level reporting about the looming crisis in education funding.

Decision day looms for some Chicago Public Schools parents: Remote learning or in-person classes?
Hanna Leone, Chicago Tribune, October 22

Charleston schools readying for reopening
Dave Fopay, Journal Gazette and Times Courier, Charleston/Mattoon, October 23

How ventilation and air filtration play key roles in preventing COVID-19’s spread indoors
USA Today/Chicago Sun-Times, October 21

La Salle-Peru High creates COVID-19 dashboard to track community's positivity rate
Jayce Eustice, LaSalle News Tribune, October 21

America's School Funding Crisis: Budget Cuts, Rising Costs And No Help In Sight
Cory Turner, National Public Radio, October 23
In today’s Leading News, the Tribune reports that Illinois will begin publishing data on coronavirus outbreaks in Illinois schools. In negotiation news, Decatur 61’s special education staff will move under the ROE umbrella, and contract talks continue between Galesburg CUSD 205 and its teachers. Coal City CUSD 1 forecasts the impacts of the announced closing of the Dresden Generating Station. Also in the news, Galena USD 120 looks at long-term plans for facility improvements.  

Illinois will start sharing data about COVID-19 outbreaks in schools
Jodi S. Cohen And Jennifer Smith Richards, Chicago Tribune, October 21

300 special education district workers will no longer be considered Decatur staffers
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, October 16

GEA and D205 continue negotiations
Matt Koester, Galesburg Register-Mail, October 17

Coal City school board discusses Dresden closing, superintendent search
Rob Oesterle, Morris Herald News, October 8

Galena Schools 3 facility options for future
Brandon Behlke, Galena Gazette, October 12

In today’s Leading News, a COVID-19 surge in the suburbs and warnings from county health officials places plans to return to the classroom in jeopardy.

Lake County Health Officials Recommend Virtual Learning as COVID-19 Cases Increase
NBC 5, Chicago, October 20

DuPage County Officials Recommend Remote Learning for Schools as COVID-19 Cases Rise
NBC 5, Chicago, October 19

Additional COVID-19 mitigations to take effect Thursday in Southern Illinois' Region 5
Marilyn Halstead, Southern Illinoisan, Carbondale, October 21

Kane/DuPage and Will/Kankakee regions hit state's COVID-19 fail-safe for enhanced mitigations as statewide hospitalizations rise
John Sahly, Northwest Herald, Chicago suburbs, October 20

Pritzker says state moving in wrong direction on COVID-19
Kewanee Star Courier, October 19
In today’s Leading News, school nurses work through coronavirus. Lawmakers seeks solutions from CPS before classrooms reopen. School districts cope with the challenges of remote learning and reversals of return-to-school plans.  Also in the news, the IHSA will make a call on winter activities next week and will allow club participation for sports with altered high school schedules.

School nurses in Illinois carry ‘fierce’ workload during coronavirus pandemic
Leslie Renken, Journal Star, Peoria, October 19

Lawmakers pen letter to Lightfoot, CPS asking for remote learning improvements, stronger safety measures before return to classes
Sam Kelly, Chicago Sun-Times, October 18

Remote Learners Having Hard Time
Mike Plunkett, Hillsboro Journal News, October 15

Monticello High to switch to remote learning for one week
Steve Hoffman, News-Gazette, Champaign, October 18

Elmhurst School District 205 will shift back to all-remote learning due to rise in DuPage COVID-19 cases
Graydon Megan, Pioneer Press/Elmhurst News, October 19

IHSA to decide plan for winter sports Oct. 28
State Journal-Register, Springfield, October 19

In today’s Leading News, red more local decisions and reasoning behind school district plans for students to be in classrooms.

Champaign, Urbana districts head into 2nd quarter with different plans
Anthony Zilis, News-Gazette, Champaign, October 18

Bloomington District 87 students to go hybrid soon, except grades 7-12
Lenore Sobota, Bloomington Pantagraph, October 16

CPS reopening to start with pre-K, special ed next month; more students could return in January
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, October 16

Rock Island-Milan students returning to classrooms part time on Monday
Anthony Watt, Quad Cities Dispatch-Argus, October 16

District 214 shifting from remote to hybrid learning, calling on families to help mitigate COVID-19 cases
Graydon Megan, Pioneer Press/Arlington Heights Post, October 13

In today’s Leading News, the Tribune is reporting on the Chicago Public Schools plan for return-to-classrooms, while CPS students in remote learning ask for shorter days due to stress and fatigue. School districts make, and adjust, plans and accommodations for in-person learning. Also in the news, the coronavirus shutdown had an impact on teacher retirements.
 
Most CPS students will continue remote learning 2nd quarter …
Hannah Leone, Chicago Tribune, October 15
 
CPS students petition to shorten the class day — and end homework — during remote learning, citing headaches, stress and too much screen time
Hannah Leone, Chicago Tribune, October 14
 
Dist. 300 fourth- and fifth-graders will switch to hybrid learning earlier than planned
Cassie Buchman, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, October 14
 
COVID-19 outbreak forces B-PC district to resume remote learning
Tabi Jozwick, McDonough County Voice, October 13
 
Cedar Ridge parents speak out against bilingual education changes
Kelsey Watznauer, Bloomington Pantagraph, October 15
 
As Illinois schools began sharing COVID-19 plans, teacher retirements surged
Megan Valley, Belleville News-Democrat, October 15

In today’s Leading News, with the U.S. Census now slated to close October 15-16, Illinois residents are encouraged to complete the census if they have not; the count determines where federal funding (including education dollars) is allocated and the next congressional and legislative maps. CPS is partnering with ISU to bring more teachers of color into classrooms. School districts aim to make the most of school traditions and celebrations in a pandemic. Also in the news, a favorite hands-on activity, Engineering in the Classroom and its Rube Goldberg machines, joins the virtual world.
 
Illinois Governor and Advocates Urge Last-Minute Participation in Census
Mary Hansen, NPR Illinois, October 14
 
Illinois State University enters new partnership with Chicago Public Schools
Lenore Sobota, Bloomington Pantagraph, October 14
 
Facing a shortage of educators of color, CPS looks to groom its own students for teaching jobs
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, October 9
 
Oakwood students making best of homecoming situation
Ben Zigterman, Champaign News-Gazette, October 6
 
Decatur's Engineer in the Classroom goes virtual
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, October 10
 

In today’s Leading News, school districts continue to make return-to-school decisions.  

As some classrooms reopen, education plans vary across area school districts
Jennifer Johnson, Pioneer Press/Park Ridge Herald Advocate, October 13

Facing a new quarter, Central Illinois schools revisit familiar COVID questions
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, October 9

Richmond-Burton nurse resigns after advised to not automatically self-isolate if exposed to COVID-19
Sam Lounsberry, Northwest Herald, Chicago suburbs, October 13

Cicero school district bringing staff back to buildings while remote learning continues
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, October 9

Schools struggle with rules during remote learning; vaccine trial paused over unexplained illness
AP/Quad Cities Dispatch-Argus, October 12
In today’s Leading News, an ISBE announcement Monday changed its guidance such that students without updated physical and immunization records may participate in remote learning. Also in the news, checking the local metrics as students across the state return to the classroom.

ISBE changes school immunization rule
Alyssa Hui, WICS/WRSP, October 12

A second wave: Thousands of suburban students begin return to classrooms
Madhu Krishnamurthy, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, October 10

Geneseo schools go to hybrid schedule; cite better COVID metrics
Lisa Hammer, Quad Cities Dispatch-Argus, October 8

Glenwood High School students who are part of hybrid model will return to campus on Nov. 16
Steven Spearie, State Journal-Register, Springfield, October 8

Health department releases new dashboard tracking COVID-19 metrics for schools
Kelli Duncan, Northwest Herald, Chicago suburbs, October 8
 
In today’s Leading News, coronavirus has school districts nationwide reconsidering attendance policies. The Tribune questions the reporting of coronavirus “outbreaks” by and in Illinois school districts. Remote learning matches well with the strengths and needs of some students. Parents cope with balancing work and school. Also in the news, tune in now: there’s a 1930s precedent for remote learning in Chicago.

School Districts Rethink Attendance Policies To Accommodate Pandemic Realities
Anya Kamanetz, National Public Radio, October 2

Illinois confirms COVID-19 outbreaks in 44 schools this school year but won’t say where they occurred
Jodi S. Cohen and Jennifer Smith Richards, Chicago Tribune, October 8

Remote learning has been a disaster for many students. But some kids have thrived.
Azure Gilman, Washington Post, October 3

… Parents Struggle To Balance Childcare And Work During The Pandemic
Adriana Cardona-Maguigad, WBEZ, Chicago, October 7

How Chicago pioneered remote learning during an epidemic — via radio in 1937
Katherine A. Foss, Contributor, Chicago Sun-Times, October 5
In today’s Leading News, school districts continue to examine the best modes and systems for learning in their communities.

Will Chicago Public Schools reopen next month?
A disputed ruling that buildings could pose COVID-19 risk raises new doubts.

Hannah Leone, Chicago Tribune, October 6

East St. Louis families scramble for internet access to engage in remote learning 
DeAsia Paige , Belleville News-Democrat, October 7

Youngest first: phase-in begins for in-school learning at PPS
Scott Hilyard, Peoria Journal Star, October 6

School district considers options
Nicole Lauer, Quad Cities Dispatch-Argus, September 29

Unit 5 prepares for return to classrooms; board OKs deficit budget
Kelsey Watznauer, Bloomington Pantagraph, September 30
 
In today’s Leading News, coronavirus brings a new normal, and questions about safety and student success, for school districts as employers. Also in the news, candidates prepare for April school board elections, and coronavirus response will have impacts on filling board seats.

School Bus Drivers In Rockford Face The New Normal
Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco, Northern Public Radio, DeKalb, October 2

Arbitrator rules CPS schools unsafe for school clerks, other workers
Clare Proctor, Chicago Sun-Times, October 2

Bourbonnais school officials talk achievement gaps during pandemic
Stephanie Markham, Kankakee Daily Journal, October 1

Nominating petitions available for Heartland, District 87, Unit 5 boards
Lenore Sobota, Bloomington Pantagraph, September 30

In-person school debate sparking interest in District 70 school board election
Mick Zawislak, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, October 1
In today’s Leading News, in-person and remote learning decisions continue throughout the state as virus-relate information continues to be adjusted.

District 186 eases up on ‘outlier’ metric; eyes possible return to classrooms
Steven Spearie, State Journal-Register, Springfield, October 5

COVID changes to school schedule has students taking on jobs
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, October 4

Washington high school students now need a reason to do online learning
Steve Stein, Journal Star, Peoria, October 3

Here’s how southwest IL schools check coronavirus cases to help protect students
Megan Valley, Belleville News-Democrat, October 6

CDC says coronavirus can spread indoors in air beyond 6 feet in updated guidance
Associated Press, Northwest Herald, Chicago suburbs, October 6
 

In today’s Leading News, pending closures of two Illinois nuclear power plants impact school districts. Illinois may consider a proposal that would require kids to start school at age 5. The 2020 U.S. Census continues, with uncertainty as to its timeline. Immunization record requirements remain in place in Illinois. Also in the news, the IHSA’s pandemic-related decision-making is upheld.
 
Illinois Nuke-Plant Exits Poised to Gut Small-Town Budgets
Shruti Singh and Will Wade, Bloomberg, October 1
 
State lawmakers discuss lowering compulsory school age to 5
Peter Hancock, CNI/News-Gazette, Champaign, September 25
 
US appeals court blocks Trump from shutting down census early, but still no firm deadline for ending the count
Chicago Tribune, October 1
 
Thousands of Illinois students have not submitted immunization records
Alyssa Hui, WICS, Springfield, September 29
 
Suburban judge rejects attempt to revive high school football during pandemic
John Keilman, Chicago Tribune, October 1
 

In today’s Leading News, how much screen time is too much? Hybrid learning may become the new normal as school districts alter their plans and make creative partnerships based on local outlooks and resources.
 
Student screen time: Learning from home means staring at computers
Rachel Otwell, Illinois Times, Springfield, October 1
 
McHenry County releases finalized plan for when kids may return to in-person school
Cassie Buchman, Northwest Herald, Chicago suburbs, September 23
 
North Boone School District parents share frustrations surrounding virtual learning
WTVO, Rockford, September 22
 
Navigating remote learning, ‘it’s feeling a lot more natural’
Steven Spearie, State Journal-Register, Springfield, September 28
 
Children's Discovery Museum, McLean County Unit 5 distribute 1,000 activity kits
Sierra Henry, Bloomington Pantagraph, September 30

In today’s Leading News, from college entrance exams to competitive dance to homeschooling, communities, parents, and students make their voices heard on coronavirus response.
 
Rally in Libertyville calls for return to high school classrooms
Mick Zawislak, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, September 29

Suburban parents sue IHSA, hoping to force return of high school football and other sports
John Keilman, Chicago Tribune, September 29
 
More students turn to private, homeschool
Matt Koester, Galesburg Register-Mail, September 19
 
Former Chicago schools chief protests with Arlington Heights families, calling for in-school instruction...
Karie Angell Luc, Pioneer Press/Arlington Heights Post, September 29
 
Will CPS kids go back to schools this fall? Lightfoot says ‘we’re not there yet’
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, September 28
 
Scores of Illinois high schools reopened Wednesday for SAT makeup exams.
Critics say seniors don’t need the added test stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Karen Ann Cullotta, Kimberly Fornek, and Hannah Leone, Chicago Tribune, September 23
 

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