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September 2020 Leading News

In today’s Leading News, school districts work through the ins and outs of coronavirus response, remote learning and hybrid models.

Rockford-area educators clash with health official over COVID-19 response
Corina Curry, Rockford Register Star, September 22

ROWVA enrollment increase may lead to space issue for district
Linda Bell, Galesburg Register-Mail, September 23

Thousands of suburban students going back to school after starting fully remote
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, September 28

U-46 leaders discuss evolving plan for return to classrooms
Madhu Krishnamurthy, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, September 28

Rapid COVID-19 tests could help Peoria schools reopen and stay that way
Scott Hilyard, Peoria Journal Star, September 28

Alton starting in-person classes Oct. 19
Dylan Suttles, Alton Telegraph, September 23

 

In today’s Leading News, repairs and replacements continue after summer floods closed school facilities in East Peoria CHSD 309. Kewanee CUSD 229 and its teachers union schedule mediation in contract talks. Kankakee SD 111 offers a new Junior ROTC program. Rock Island/Milan SD 41 gets updates on construction projects. Also in the news, donations are on the way to replace trees taken down by the August derecho.


Return delayed for in-school learning at East Peoria high school
Scott Hilyard, Peoria Journal Star, September 26

Teachers, admin talk turkey
Mike Helenthal, Kewanee Star-Courier, September 29

New JROTC program takes off at Kankakee High School
Stephanie Markham, Kankakee Daily Journal, September 23

Rock Island-Milan School Board approve budget; hears updates for construction projects for Washington Junior High and Rock Island High
Nicole Lauer, Quad Cities Dispatch-Argus, September 22

Donations building for Ottawa High School to replace front trees
Brian Hoxsey, Ottawa Times, September 22
As parents call for changes, school districts make decisions on remote, hybrid, and in-person learning.

‘This is not good enough.’ Chicago-area parents rally to get kids back in school, and some districts are making it happen.
Robert McCoppin And Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune, September 24

Harrisburg schools go to full remote after COVID outbreak
Travis DeNeal, Daily Register, Harrisburg, September 25

Glenbrook high schools aim to phase-in hybrid schedule starting Oct. 5
Dave Oberhelman, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, September 23

District 87 announces return to in-person learning for elementary students
Kelsey Watznauer, Bloomington Pantagraph, September 23

Orion High School principal wants to allow students space to learn on-site on remote days; worried about number of failing grades
Lisa Hammer, Quad Cities Dispatch-Argus, September 23

In today’s Leading News, as coronavirus-wrought challenges continue, educators and communities in Illinois offer approaches to dealing with the unprecedented upheaval of 2020.
 
‘This is not good enough.’ Chicago-area parents rally to get kids back in school, and some districts are making it happen.
Robert McCoppin and Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune, September 24
 
Thousands of CPS students still haven’t attended virtual classes this fall, officials say
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, September 23
 
Not silenced: How Decatur marching bands are adapting amid COVID
Analisa Trofimuk, Decatur Herald and Review, September 12
 
Teacher takes advantage of remote learning to offer instruction from places where American history happened
Jeff Vorva, Daily Southtown, Chicago and suburbs, September 24
 
Lincoln Correctional inmates grow pumpkins for kindergarten students
Jean Ann Miller, Lincoln Courier, September 20
 

In today’s Leading News, school district budget decisions consider long- and short-term implications of the coronavirus. School districts seek to improve connectivity through funds from the state’s Digital Equity grant. Also in the news, concerns about screen time remain.

Leyden D212 board members approve FY21 budget, forecast lasting impacts on revenue from COVID-19
Anna Kim, Pioneer Press/Franklin Park Herald-Journal, September 22

Saratoga school board adopts 2020-21 budget
Rob Oester, Morris Herald News, September 23

Federal funding for school connectivity awarded
Travis DeNeal, Harrisburg Register, September 22

Rock Island County school districts getting $1.2 million to connect students to internet
Anthony Watt, Quad Cities Dispatch-Argus, September 21

Students are getting too much screen time while remote learning in Chicago Public Schools, but in-person services still pose COVID-19 risk, CTU says
Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas, Chicago Tribune, September 22

In today’s Leading News, Illinois school districts strive to balance budgets in uncertain financial times. Also in the news, Woodland CCSD 50 renews claims against Prairie Crossing Charter School in Grayslake.


New projection shrinks deficit in 20-21 QPS budget
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, September 22

Dist. 303 cuts about $5 million in expenses, revenues to balance budget
Eric Schelkopf, Kane County Chronicle, September 17

District 153 balances budget with referendum funds
Marilyn Thomas, Homewood Flossmoor Chronicle, September 16

Yorkville School District officials working to balance budget
Katie Finlon, Kendall County Now, September 16

Woodland District 50 sues to close Prairie Crossing Charter School in Grayslake
Doug T. Graham, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, September 17

In today’s Leading News, hundreds participated in “Let Us Play” rallies over the weekend; Governor Pritzker stays with the plan that moved fall sports to the spring. Decatur SD 61 students talk about the continuation of remote learning. Schedule-making, and keeping, is a challenge for parents and students. Also in the news, there’s an unexpected benefit of remote learning: chirping smoke alarms attract teacher attention.
 
'Let us play’: High school students and parents rally in the Loop
Madeline Buckley, Chicago Tribune, September 19
 
High school coaches, players make pitch at #LetUsPlay rally in Springfield
Bill Welt, Kewanee Star-Courier, September 19
 
Pritzker says no to high school football despite Illinois being a leader in testing
Doug Finke, State Journal-Register, Springfield, September 21
 
Students react to Decatur schools extending remote learning until November
Donnette Beckett, Decatur Herald and Review, September 19
 
Parents share frustrations with virtual learning
Stephanie Markham, Kankakee Daily Journal, September 17
 
Chirping smoke detectors at students’ home were disrupting virtual classes.
Now firefighters are helping to fix them.
Perry Stein, Washington Post, September 21

In today’s Leading News, school districts consider, reconsider, and make decisions regarding the health and safety of students in classrooms.

Dist. 303 parents, students to rally again for in-person learning
Eric Schelkopf, Kane County Chronicle, September 18

Unit 5 parents: Let our kids return to school
Kelsey Watznauer, Bloomington Pantagraph, September 17

Some Cherry Valley, Summerdale students, teachers to quarantine for 2 weeks
Corina Curry, Rockford Register Star, September 20

North Shore school district backs off proposed COVID-19 policy keeping quarantined kids off remote learning: ‘There are no travel police'
Karen Ann Cullotta, Pioneer Press/Winnetka Talk, September 18

District 7 parent surveys others on remote learning experiences
Tyler Pletsch, Edwardsville Intelligencer, September 17

In today’s Leading News, read the week’s on the decision-making behind remote learning and return to the classrooms.
 
Remote learning, in school? Some suburban public schools closed by COVID-19 have reopened for e-learning supervision... 
Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune, September 17
 
D205 weighs return to in-person classes
Matt Koester, Register-Mail, Galesburg, September 15
 
How do schools keep students up to speed when they must quarantine?
Steve Stein, Journal Star, Peoria, September 16
 
D118 board gets update on start of school
Carol Roehm, Danville Commercial-News, September 10
 
Some elementary students are back in class, and suburban districts are weighing what can come next
Katlyn Smith, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, September 16

In today’s Leading News, school districts and community organizations work to provide resources to students and families.

Community health workers connect QPS families, students to services
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, September 1

Dist. 230 helps kids eat well during crisis
Dave Clarke, Kewanee Star Courier, September 16

District 96 set to hire contact tracer for Riverside schools
Bob Skolnik, Riverside-Brookfield Landmark, September 10

‘Many more’ CPS child care sites to come after the first 6 open this week
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, September 9

Child Welfare Officials Say They’re Coping During Pandemic
Peter Hancock, CNI/WVIK, Quad Cities, September 15

In today’s Leading News, students lead their communities in work towards recognition for underrepresented communities. Colleges report declining enrollment, especially among Latino, Black and adult learners. The push for school choice at the federal level continues. Also in the news, a bipartisan bill in the U.S. Senate would reclaim time for the 2020 U.S. Census.
 
Students continue push toward Chicago History Museum exhibit focused on Latino history
Elvia Malag├│n, Chicago Sun-Times, September 13
 
Unit 4 unanimously OKs Black Lives Matter sign
Ben Zigterman, News-Gazette, Champaign, September 14
 
Suburban colleges report huge enrollment declines among Latino, Black and adult learners
Madhu Krishnamurthy, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, September 8
 
Trump, DeVos raise school choice in appeal to vexed parents
Collin Binkley, AP/The Telegraph, Alton, September 14
 
Bipartisan Senate Push To Extend Census Begins Weeks Before Count Is Set To End
Hansi Lo Wang, National Public Radio, September 15

In today’s Leading News, we take a second look at the week’s coronavirus discussions and adaptations, from the national, state, city, suburban, and rural perspectives. 
 
USDA change makes free breakfast, lunch available for students through Dec. 31
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, September 8
 
How a legal fight over private school dollars could impact Illinois’ largest districts
Samantha Smylie, Chalkbeat Chicago, September 1
 
‘We just want what’s best for the kids’: High school sports rally coming to Springfield and Chicago on Saturday
Bill Welt, State Journal-Register, Springfield, September 14
 
CPS students log on at much higher rates than the spring, but attendance down from previous years
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, September 11
 
Hinsdale Central High School students call for return to in-person instruction
Kimberly Fornek, Pioneer Press/The Doings, September 11
 
Citing multiple cases of COVID-19, Okaw Valley middle and high schools switch to remote learning
Decatur Herald and Review, September 14

In today’s Leading News, another week starts as school districts work through learning in pandemic circumstances.

'It's good to have the students back': All going well for special ed students in the Black Hawk Area Special Education District
Anthony Watt, Quad Cities Dispatch-Argus, September 14

Mixed results in remote-learning attendance in Peoria Public Schools
Scott Hilyard, Journal Star, Peoria, September 12

Schools now juggling coronavirus concerns
Brandon Behlke, Galena Gazette, September 7

RPS opening day brings excitement, tech challenges
Corina Curry, Rockford Register Star, September 8

District 300 school board postpones meeting on hybrid learning plan until Sept. 22
Cassie Buchman, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, September 11
 
In today’s Leading News, some districts are beginning to look at plans to transition from remote to classroom learning, while the Illinois Department of Public Health has begun to publish new metrics to assist districts with their decisions.
 
District 186 board wants ‘sustained improvement’ in COVID numbers before in-person classes resume
Steven Spearie, State Journal-Register, Springfield, September 9

Belleville high schools have plan to begin transitioning students back to classrooms
Megan Valley, Belleville News-Democrat, September 10

Prairie Grove District 46 to hold special meeting in two weeks to discuss learning plans
Cassie Buchman, Northwest Herald, September 9

Mattoon school board hears update on remote learning
Rob Stroud, Journal Gazette and Times Courier, Charleston/Mattoon, September 10

IDPH Publishes New COVID-19 Cases Among Young People, Data For 'School Determination'
Mary Hansen, NPR Illinois, September 8
 

In today’s Leading News, Elgin-based School District U-46 seeks to improve kindergarten readiness. Proviso THSD 209 considers a graduation requirement for the study of Black history. Meridian CUSD 15’s agriculture program gets a boost. Shuttered school buildings in Belleville get new purposes. CPS updates its selective enrollment process. Also in the news, the IHSA adds a hate speech policy.

Kindergarten student readiness in U-46 drops to 15% in 2019: ‘We’ve got to move that needle’
Rafael Guerrero, Elgin Courier-News, September 8

D209 could require Black history course for graduation
Michael Romain, Forest Park Review, September 8

Meridian Ag Foundation adds $50,000 to building fund
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, August 31

Two vacant Belleville schools repurposed for Christian and special needs students
Teri Maddox, Belleville News-Democrat, August 26

CPS releases new rules for competitive selective enrollment application process
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, September 2

Illinois high schools take hard line against hate speech at sporting events
Dean Criddle, Belleville News-Democrat, September 4
 

In today’s Leading News, families and fans hold rallies for in-person learning and sports. Meanwhile school districts adjust to coronavirus impacts and remote learning concerns. Also in the news, the CPS school year begins, with efforts to connect students.
 
Parents, students call for in-person learning and the early return of high school sports at Wheaton rally
Jeff Vorva, Aurora Beacon-News, September 9
 
Parents, students rally to reopen Algonquin District 300 to in-person learning
Cassie Buchman, Northwest Herald, September 9
 
Dunlap schools’ COVID-19 trends on the decline
Scott Hilyard, Journal-Star, Peoria, September 4
 
Attendance down at Rock Island-Milan schools
Nicole Lauer, Quad Cities Dispatch-Argus, September 8
 
From wake-up calls to wellness checks, how CPS is trying to make sure no child is left disconnected …
Hannah Leone, Chicago Tribune, September 6
 

In today’s Leading News, after what’s being called a lost summer; will fall bring a COVID-19 surge? Some teachers find benefit to teaching in a classroom, even if it’s empty. Grandparents come to the rescue as students learn from home. Cross country coaches are considering unofficial championship meets. Also in the news, grants are available for high school equivalency programs.

The Summer of COVID-19 ends with US health officials worried about another surge following Labor Day
Jeffrey Collins, Associated Press/Chicago Tribune, September 7
 
Teaching to empty classrooms ...
Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune, September 7
 
How grandparents are stepping in to help with remote learning
Katlyn Smith, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, September 1
 
Illinois coaches group planning virtual 5K
Stan Morris, Journal Star, Peoria, September 7
 
Illinois Community College Board subsidizes high school equivalency testing costs to help struggling Illinoisans
Clint Walker, Journal Gazette and Times Courier, Charleston/Mattoon, September 9

In today’s Leading News, finding substitute teachers grows as a challenge for Illinois school districts. School districts make plans to deal with positive COVID tests. Students and staff prepare to return to learn as classes start next week in Chicago Public Schools and Rockford SD 205. Also in the news, a popular homeschool curriculum that expanded to the remote learning market is being cancelled by school districts after complaints about “inappropriate and racist” content.
 
Substitutes 'going to be an issue' for every school district
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, August 30
 
Schools learning to react swiftly to confirmed cases
Anthony Zilis, News-Gazette, Champaign, September 2
 
For some CPS employees, the school year is already off to a rough start, even before classes begin Tuesday
Hannah Leone, Chicago Tribune, September 3
 
Rockford students: ‘You’ve been home long enough’
Corina Curry, Rockford Register Star, September 1
 
'Inappropriate and racist content': Some schools cancel online curriculum Acellus as COVID-19 back to school kicks off
Elinor Aspegren, USA Today, September 3

In today’s Leading News, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says states should be ready to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine in November; questions remain. In the meantime, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker warns of the collision of coronavirus and Labor Day weekend gatherings. Also in the news, school districts deal with symptoms, Zoom-bombing, and bus cleaning as schools return to session.
 
CDC tells states: Be ready to distribute vaccines on Nov. 1
Timeline raises concern among public health experts
Associated Press/Northwest Herald, Chicago suburbs, September 2
 
Pritzker warns of virus spread during holiday weekend
Peter Hancock, CNI/Journal Gazette and Times Courier, Charleston/Mattoon, September 2
 
Kid sick at school? COVID-19 protocols can be complicated
Scott Hilyard, Peoria Journal-Star, August 29
 
‘Zoom-bombers’ hijack online classes at suburban middle school, spew racist rants
Madeline Kenney, Chicago Sun-Times, August 29
 
School bus cleaning is more intense during COVID-19
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, September 1

In today’s Leading News, school districts switch to remote learning, while others outline return protocols and extend remote learning. Also in the news, some Illinois residents are moving to remote locations for the winter.

Region's positivity rates factor into BBCHS switch to remote learning
Stephanie Markham, Kankakee Daily Journal, August 27

B-PC to go to remote learning
Tabi Jozwick, McDonough County Voice, August 31

District 214 sets metrics for moving between stages of Return to School plan
Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, August 29

Lake Forest High School pushes back dates for when students may return to school building
Daniel I. Dorfman, Pioneer Press/Lake Forester, September 1

Snake Road closed … for the annual fall reptile, amphibian migration
Alee Quick, Southern Illinoisan, Carbondale, September 1

In today’s Leading News, the coronavirus pandemic impacts the work of boards of education and the long-term decisions that Illinois school districts are considering.
 
Some McHenry County school boards continue to record meetings as they switch back to in person
Sam Lousenberry, Northwest Herald, August 19
 
Chicago Area Residents Seek Diversity for Mostly White Board in Minority District
NBC 5, Chicago, August 15
 
State announces SAT makeup dates for high school students who missed spring exams because of COVID-19
Sophie Sherry, Chicago Tribune, August 20
 
Scott school districts eye consolidation feasibility
Samantha McDaniel-Ogletree, Jacksonville Journal Courier, August 27
 
CPS to face ‘very, very tough decisions,’ potential budget cuts if federal funding falls through, board president says
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, August 26

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