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September 2021 Leading News

In today’s Leading News, reporting on communities, school districts, and boards of education that are experiencing impacts of the ongoing stressors of our times.
 
Centennial students, parents look for answers after gun incidents, threats
Anthony Zilis, Champaign News-Gazette, September 27
 
2 Bloomington High students expelled, 2 withdraw after fights in school
Kyreon Lee, WMBD, Peoria, September 28
 
Lead contamination found in the blood of half of young U.S. children
Shepard Price, Alton Telegraph. September 28
 
A Closed CPS Charter School Leaves Student Without Transcript He Needs For College
Megan Hickey, CBS2, Chicago, September 23
 
Thousands of school board members urge Biden to protect them
Stef W. Kight, Axios, September 30
 
 

In today’s Leading News, coronavirus considerations for Illinois school districts include testing supplies, start times, safety measures, and returning to school.

Shortages delaying in-school COVID testing
Les O'Dell, The Southern Illinoisan, September 24
 
Will County school districts put COVID-19 testing programs in place
Alex Ortiz, Joliet Herald News, September 28
 
Woodstock District 200 yanks earlier school start times from consideration while bus driver shortage looms
Sam Lounsberry, Shaw Media/Northwest Herald, September 24
 
Triad union leaders show support for Illinois public health and COVID-19 school safety measures
Derik Holtmann, Belleville News-Democrat, September 27
 
CPS students who have stayed home with COVID-19 fears can return at any time school officials say
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, September 22

 
In today’s Leading News, school districts in Illinois work through challenges of tough societal questions.
 
What went wrong to lead to Peoria High brawl, and how can it be fixed? Citizens speak out
JJ Bullock, Peoria Journal Star, September 24
 
Firm hired to do study on District 204 housing trends and their impact on finances, student enrollment
Suzanne Baker, Naperville Sun, September 10
 
Unit 4 'concerned about violence in the broader community that is seeping into our schools'
Mary Schenk, Champaign News-Gazette, September 25
 
BBCHS to students: 'We saw you, heard you, and will listen'
Stephanie Markham, Kankakee Daily Journal, September 20
 
Restorative Practices workshop teaches communication and relationship-building
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, September 23

In today’s Leading News, continuing to cope with coronavirus.
 
Pop-ups, SHIELD testing: Local school districts react one week into COVID-19 educator mandates
Katrina J.E. Milton and Katie Finlon, Shaw Media/DeKalb Daily Chronicle, September 25
 
Kankakee schools still seeing positive cases rise
Stephanie Markham, Kankakee Daily Journal, September 23
 
Southwest IL parents file lawsuit against school district to unmask their students
Megan Valley, Belleville News-Democrat, September 24
 
‘Disappointed’ Lightfoot admits CPS’ COVID testing, contact tracing falling short
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, September 24
 
Naperville District 203 considers testing program to keep kids in school even if they’re exposed to COVID
Rafael Guerrero, Naperville Sun, September 21

In today’s Leading News, school districts deal with bus driver shortages, the Open Meetings Act, and mask and vaccine mandates. Also in the news, the tragedy of gun violence hits home in CPS.

Bus driver shortage forces Oswego-based District 308 into remote learning for middle, high school students
Linda Girardi, Aurora Beacon-News, September 21

Illinois attorney general finds Hillsboro school board violated Open Meetings Act
Ryan Mahan, State Journal-Register, Springfield, September 21

Parents confront Mount Zion school board over masks; new member named
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, September 21

Nauvoo-Colusa School Board exempts some staff from COVID vaccinations, testing
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, September 21

‘It’s just a dark day today’: Simeon students cope with the fatal shootings of 2 classmates hours apart
Emmanuel Camarillo, Madeline Kenney, and David Struett, Chicago Sun-Times, September 22

In today’s Leading News, read the latest in coronavirus news at it relates to schools and school-age children in Illinois
 
DPH, ISBE release updated school guidance: Here’s what you need to know
Mike Miletich, WEEK, Peoria, September 22
 
Patients flood emergency rooms at Chicago area children’s hospitals, causing long wait times. Doctors urge parents not to bring kids to ERs unless necessary.
Lisa Schencker, Chicago Tribune, September 22
 
School outbreaks reported in Warren, Knox counties; exposure most often coming from outside school
Jane Carlson, Galesburg Register-Mail, September 18
 
Here’s where to find info on COVID cases in your kid’s Madison County school district
Megan Valley, Belleville News-Democrat, September 16
 
Volunteers assemble Corsi boxes
Brandon Behlke, Galena Gazette, September 13

 
In today’s Leading News, the state vaccine mandate for school personnel is in effect, as the pandemic’s impact on school districts continues to hit the headlines.
 
Illinois K-12 School Staff & Teacher Vaccine Mandate Goes Into Effect
Peter Medlin, Northern Public Radio, DeKalb, September 20
 
'Constitutional Crusaders' voice concerns over vaccine mandate at District 186 meeting
Steven Spearie, State Journal-Register, Springfield, September 21
 
Illinois parents sound off on vaccinating their kids
Dominic Genetti, Alton Telegraph, September 20
 
School outbreaks reported in Warren, Knox counties; exposure most often coming from outside school
Jane Carlson, Galesburg Register-Mail, September 18
 
Geneva, St. Charles school workers challenge COVID-19 vaccination, test requirements
Steve Zalusky, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, September 20

In today’s Leading News, before-times school district conversations continue: recess, assessments and monitoring, student voices, school boundaries, and a new, social media-inspired “prank.”
 
This Illinois school mandate isn’t controversial: 30 minutes of recess
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, September 16
 
Reports measure QPS performance in challenging 2020-21 year
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, September 16
 
Bus driver refused player with Mexico flag – so entire Illinois team left, school says
Chacour Koop, via the Belleville News-Democrat, September 19
 
Parents already concerned about potential future boundary maps in Dist. 204
Kevin Schmit, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, September 15
 
TikTok prank challenge taking toll on five area school districts
Jeff D’Alessio, Champaign News-Gazette, September 19

In today’s Leading News, schools and communities cope with aspects of education in a time of coronavirus. Also in the news, an opinion piece signed by many Illinois school district officials is published statewide.
 
Quad-City mask mandates, vaccine mandates, crowded hospitals mark week in COVID-19
Tom Loewy, Quad Cities Dispatch-Argus, September 19
 
Supply issues limit meal choices at area schools
Zach Roth, Effingham Daily News, September 19
 
CPS logged 245 COVID-19 cases, with nearly 5,500 students and staff potentially exposed, in first 2 weeks of school
Tracy Swartz, Chicago Tribune, September 15
 
Some East St. Louis parents demand schools provide remote learning due to COVID cases
Deasia Paige, Belleville News-Democrat, September 19
 
School leaders present case for local control
Kankakee Daily Journal (and other media), September 18

In today’s Leading News, the shortage of school personnel is a national problem, and other coronavirus repercussions continue. Also in the news, read more about the new CEO for Chicago Public Schools, the nation’s third-largest school district.
 
Will the bus driver ever come? Or the substitute teacher or cafeteria worker?
Giulia Heyward New York Times, September 26
 
Cases of COVID-19 are rising in children, but there's reason for optimism, expert says
Marni Pyke, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, September 15

Nearly 450 Illinois school districts and private schools have signed up for COVID-19 saliva SHIELD testing. So far, only 79 have started. Here’s why.
Lisa Schencker and Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune, September 16
 
With COVID-19 vaccine in spotlight, health official worries about Aurora-area kids getting their routine vaccinations
Linda Girardi, Aurora Beacon-News, September 15
 
Pedro Martinez named 1st Latino CEO of Chicago Public Schools; former San Antonio superintendent is Chicago native, CPS grad
Gregory Pratt and Alice Yin, Chicago Tribune, September 15
 
Who is Pedro Martinez, CPS’ new CEO?
Nader Issa and Lauren FitzPatrick, Chicago Sun-Times, September 16

In today’s Leading News, Peoria Public Schools proposes an alternative learning program. Southern schools seek subs. Kankakee resolves to fix scheduling miscalculations. Concern grows in Champaign after a school bus was struck by a bullet. Also in the news, CPS announces its next CEO.

Could an alternative school for K-4 students in Peoria be a solution to pandemic declines?
Leslie Renken, Peoria Journal Star, September 15

'We're desperate': Southern Illinois schools scramble to find substitute teachers
Les O’Dell, Southern Illinoisan, Carbondale, September 14

Kankakee High School scheduling problems addressed
Stephanie Markham, Kankakee Daily Journal, September 15

Officials denounce shooting where school bus hit: 'We cannot allow our children to function in chaos'
Mary Schenk, Champaign News-Gazette, September 10

San Antonio schools Supt. Pedro Martinez named new Chicago Public Schools CEO
Nader Issa, Fran Spielman, and Elvia Malag├│n, Chicago Sun-Times, September 15

In today’s Leading News, coronavirus.
 
How U of I fought the clock to develop a COVID-19 test that schools will use this fall
Marni Pyke, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, September 7
 
22 more COVID-19 outbreaks at suburban schools
Jake Griffin, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, September 10
 
With school year underway, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rising for Illinois kids
Joe Mahr and Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune, September 13
 
Parents fed up with anti-mask protesters targeting Glen Ellyn elementary school students
Mike Lowe, WGN, Chicago, September 14
 
Illinois lawmakers question enforcement of school mask mandates
Peter Hancock, CNI/Bloomington Pantagraph, September 14

In today’s Leading News, yesterday’s Senate vote on energy legislation prompts a decision from Exelon and relief for school districts in Grundy and Ogle counties. ISBE extends the free school lunch program. A trauma care program aims to provide support in East St. Louis SD 189. Also in the news, which pro sports team brings in the most, via specialty license plate fees, for the Illinois Common School Fund?
 
Gov. J.B. Pritzker says he’ll sign sweeping energy proposal that bails out nuclear plants, sets ambitious clean-energy targets, following Senate approval
Dan Petrella, Chicago Tribune, September 13
 
Exelon Won’t Shut Down Two Plants After Ill. Senate Passes Last-Minute Energy Deal
Hannah Meisel, NPR Illinois, Springfield, September 13
 
Illinois State Board of Education extends free breakfast and lunch option through school year
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, September 12
 
East St. Louis schools continue to offer wraparound trauma care to students, families
Megan Valley, Belleville News-Democrat, September 11
 
Sports team license plates have raised more than $13 million for Illinois schools
WQAD, Quad Cities, September 13

In today’s Leading News, the beat goes on in Illinois, with local coverage of the ongoing coronavirus crisis and its implications for school districts.

COVID-19 cases in Illinois children continue to grow
John Sahly, Shaw Media, September 10

Any Illinois School District Can Offer Full-Time Remote Learning. Few Are Doing It.
Susie An, WBEZ, Chicago, September 9

Vienna superintendent weighs in on state recognition process
WSIL, Carterville, September 9

Meredosia schools prepare to start weekly tests for unvaccinated
Shirley Bilyeu, Jacksonville Journal-Courier, September 13
In today’s Leading News, districts continue their battle against new COVID-19 cases, as remote learning plans are instituted for quarantined students. Also in the news, see how some students and graduates plan to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
 
CPS reports 160 COVID-19 cases and nearly 3,000 ‘close contacts,’ but CTU questions accuracy of district case tracker
Tracy Swartz, Chicago Tribune, September 9
 

District 87 has 30 student COVID cases in first 2 weeks
Connor Wood, The Pantagraph, September 8

District 225 board reinstitutes remote learning plan
Dave Oberhelman, Daily Herald, September 8

Richards students to walk 11 miles to commemorate 9/11, which happened years before they were born
Janice Neumann, Daily Southtown, September 7

Barrington High School grad’s photos, artifacts create local exhibit to mark 20th anniversary of 9/11 attacks
Alicia Fabbre, Pioneer Press, September 7
 
In today’s Leading News, COVID-19 continues to impact school operations, with districts considering various options. Also in the News, beginning in January students will be able to take five mental health days off from school. 

School District 186 may ask ISBE and IDPH to consider mandatory student COVID-19 vaccines
Steven Spearie, State Journal-Register, September 8

Southwest Illinois youth COVID cases have continued to rise in the first weeks of school
Megan Valley, Bellville News-Democrat, September 8
 

Teacher, staff unions file OSHA complaints because masks not required in Abingdon-Avon schools
Jane Carlson, Galesburg Register-Mail, September 7

School bus troubles in CPS underscore serious driver shortage, made worse by COVID: ‘It’s just been really frustrating’
Tracy Swartz, Chicago Tribune, September 3

Illinois planning five mental health day absences for students
Shepard Price, Alton Telegraph, September 7
In today’s Leading News, more COVID outbreaks reported at schools, as one district brings in an infectious disease specialist to speak to the community. Recent court rulings over quarantine procedures may have broader implications for school districts. Additional security measures going into place at some high school football games. Also in the news, the debate over school resource officers continues for CPS.

Suburban school COVID-19 outbreaks nearly triple this week
Jake Griffin, The Daily Herald, September 5

County health expert, infectious disease specialist to discuss COVID-19 with school board
Steven Spearie, State Journal-Register, September 6

QPS court ruling carries "broader implication" for districts, students
Deborah Gertz Husar, Quincy Herald-Whig, September 3, 2021

New layer of security at Champaign high school football games
Mary Schenk, News-Gazette, September 3

Do Police Officers in CPS High Schools Make Students Safer?
Erica Gunderson, WTTW, September 5
 
In today’s Leading News, the deadline for school personal to get vaccinated or submit to regular COVID testing has been extended to September 19. Unvaccinated Chicago Public School students who traveled outside of Illinois over Labor Day are asked to quarantine. Students at ROWVA District 208 will continue to wear masks until at least November 21. CPS plans to have its full testing system in place at all schools by mid-September. Finally in the News, a group of children are taking part in a COVID-19 vaccine study to test the safety of the shot in kids 12 and under.

Health care and education workers, college students given another 2 weeks to get vaccinated before regular tests are required
By Dan Petrella, Chicago Tribune, September 3

CPS students who quarantine because of Labor Day weekend travel may not get access to remote learning
Tracy Swartz, Chicago Tribune, September 3

Masks will continue at ROWVA schools until to at least Nov. 21
Linda Bell, The Register-Mail, September 2

CPS won’t administer COVID-19 tests at all schools until mid-September, officials say
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, September 2    
         
Meet some of the kids volunteering in a Chicago COVID-19 vaccine trial: A ‘beacon of hope’ as cases in children surge nationwide
Angie Leventis Lourgos, Chicago Tribune, September 2
In today’s Leading News, the coronavirus beat goes on, from incentives to concerns to long-term impacts.

Indiana schools get incentive to require classroom masks
Post-Tribune, Northwest Indiana, September 1

Chicago Teachers Union warns of ‘escalating actions’ unless COVID-19 safety improves in CPS schools
Tracy Swartz, Chicago Tribune, September 1

Parents sue QPS, Webb over quarantine
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, August 31

School board members look for exits as meetings get heated over CRT, other topics
Fox News, August 31

COVID masks likely hinder toddlers' social, language development, speech therapy experts say
Less O’Dell, The Southern Illinoisan, September 2
 
In today’s Leading News, transportation is a major challenge as school districts negotiate the twists and turns of returning to the classroom.

Lack of bus drivers means some Rockford students will need rides to school
Andrea V. Watson, Rockford Register Star, August 31

Many suburban school districts hit with bus driver shortage
Madhu Krishnamurthy, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, September 1

Bus driver shortages means some southwest IL students need to provide their own ride
Belleville News-Democrat, August 31

District 186 students can expect bus delays starting Wednesday
Alyssa Hui, WICS, Springfield, August 31

Bus problems, COVID-19, a new school building: CPS starts another unpredictable year
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, August 29
 
In today’s Leading News, a look at the first day back for CPS, transportation issues there and throughout the state, and a call for support,

Masks, nerves and trying to social distance: How the first day went in Chicago Public Schools
Jade Yan, Tatyana Turner and Zach Harris, Chicago Tribune, August 31

CPS talking to Lyft, Uber after bus drivers quit over vaccine mandate
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, August 30

Bus driver shortage making for chaotic start to year in East Aurora School District
Megan Jones, Aurora Beacon-News, August 30

Champaign school district investigating bus issues that have parents frustrated
Debra Pressey, Champaign News-Gazette, August 30

Highland superintendent implores staff not to ‘quit on our students’ amid COVID mandates
Elizabeth Donald, Highland News Leader, August 31

Leading News

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