Note: Any news conferences from Gov. J.B. Pritzker or Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will be streamed in the video player above.
Students and teachers at Chicago Public Schools begin a new school year Tuesday but with some major changes as the district continues remote learning.
At the same time, Chicago is expected to update its travel order requiring a 14-day quarantine – possibly adding neighboring Indiana.
Meanwhile, cases continue to spike at colleges and universities as students return to campuses for the fall semester. NBC 5 Investigates has been tracking the outbreaks, putting all the info you need to know into a searchable tool to see how the pandemic is spreading.
Here are the latest updates from around Illinois on the coronavirus pandemic today (Sept. 8):
New School Year Begins With Remote Learning at Chicago Public Schools
Chicago Public Schools begins a new school year on Tuesday, but with some major changes as the coronavirus pandemic has forced the district to continue remote learning.
According to CPS’ remote learning plan, instruction time will vary by grade:
- Pre-K: 60 minutes of real-time instruction and 90 minutes of “learning activities.”
- K-2: 180 minutes of real-time instructions, 180 minutes of “learning activities.”
- 3-5: 205 minutes of real-time instruction, 155 minutes of “learning activities.”
- 6-8: 230 minutes of real-time instruction, 130 minutes of “learning activities.”
- 9-12: 80 percent of the day will be for real-time instructions, 20 percent of the day will be for “learning activities.”
Teachers will use Google education tools to track engagement for each students and will be expected to do a daily “homeroom-style check-in,” the district said.
Student attendance will be taken each day and grading will return to regular practices, according to CPS.
The district sent 125,000 devices to students in the spring and another nearly 20,000 heading into this school year.
While Mayor Lori Lightfoot first proposed a hybrid learning model, with students in small pods in the classroom a few days a week, the Chicago Teachers Union put pressure on to continue remote learning, citing concerns for teacher and student safety amid the pandemic.
Lightfoot to Speak on First Day of Classes for CPS
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is scheduled to visit a CPS school and speak about the first day of classes on Tuesday, according to her public schedule.
Lightfoot and CPS CEO Dr. Janice Jackson are expected to visit Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Academy of Social Justice, located at 644 W. 71st St., beginning at around 10:30 a.m., with a media availability after at around 11 a.m.
The news conference can be watched live in the video player above.
At Least 35K Coronavirus Cases Reported at Colleges as Students Return
At least 35,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported at 176 colleges and universities in recent weeks as students return to campuses while the pandemic rages on.
NBC 5 Investigates is tracking cases at more than 200 colleges and universities – all of the schools in Illinois, more than 50 out-of-state schools most attended by Illinois students, more than 50 of the largest universities in the U.S. and more than 30 of the country’s largest historically black colleges and universities.
Those schools include many that don’t appear to report their cases online – meaning the true total number of cases may be higher – and many where classes haven’t started or began barely one week ago.
At colleges and universities within the state of Illinois, more than 3,270 cases have been reported as of Friday – though that total is likely higher because some of those schools don’t reveal information on their cases online.
At the 14 schools in the Big Ten conference, more than 8,121 cases of coronavirus have been reported, even though some of those schools haven’t started classes yet.
Track the schools here.
Chicago Residents Could See Indiana On Travel Order By Tuesday
With Indiana’s recent surge in coronavirus metrics, Chicago residents could see the state on the city’s travel order by Tuesday, according to Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.
“Indiana very well may be added to Chicago’s travel order next week,” Arwady said last week.
The state has already crossed the average of 15 cases per 100,000 residents, sitting at 15.8 as of last week, Arwady said, but the city chose to keep it off the list.
“We made a decision not to add it this week for a few reasons,” Arwady said.
Indiana reached the threshold to be added to Chicago’s quarantine list on its emergency travel order, but the city chose not to add it, health officials said.
Among those reasons were the fact that the state had recently changed the way it reports its coronavirus data and that state colleges have marked a large spike in cases.
“If we don’t see improvement across the state then we will add them next week,” Arwady said last week.
As of Monday, more than 100,000 individuals in Indiana tested positive for coronavirus since the pandemic began, according to state health officials, adding 596 new cases and four additional deaths.
The rolling seven-day positivity rate for all tests maintained steady at 5.4 % on Monday, and among unique individuals tested, that figure also stayed consistent at 7.4%, health officials said.
For more on the city’s and state’s travel orders, click here.
Illinois Surpasses 250K Total Coronavirus Cases, Reports 1,381 New Cases Monday
More than 250,000 individuals in Illinois have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, state health officials confirmed, noting an additional 1,381 cases Monday, along with eight additional deaths attributed to the virus.
Monday’s figures brought statewide totals to 250,961 confirmed cases since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to new data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, with at least 8,179 deaths in all 102 counties attributed to the virus.
The new cases were the result of 28,975 tests administered over the last 24 hours, bringing statewide totals to 4,447,347.
The state’s rolling 7-day positivity rate was reported Monday at 4.2%.
In all, 1,484 patients are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19 in the state of Illinois, with 352 of those patients in intensive care units and the number of patients on ventilators at 137.
Prominent Chicago Restaurant Group Announces Mass Layoffs During Coronavirus Pandemic
One of Chicago’s most recognized restaurant groups has announced plans for mass layoffs as the restaurant industry continues to be hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and questions rise over how many will survive as temperatures cool.
Boka Restaurant Group filed a notice with the state showing its intent to let go of 516 workers at several of its 23 highly-acclaimed eateries.
The layoffs include employees at chef Stephanie Izard’s famed Girl & the Goat, Little Goat, Duck Duck Goat and Cabra restaurants, as well as Momotaro, Swift & Sons, GT Prime Steakhouse and more.
One of Chicago’s most recognized restaurant groups has announced plans for mass layoffs as the restaurant industry continues to be hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. NBC 5’s Trina Orlando reports
Boka Restaurant Group did not immediately respond to NBC Chicago’s requests for comment on the planned layoffs.
According to the notice, which is required for companies with 75 or more full-time workers under the Illinois Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, more than a dozen of Boka’s 23 restaurants will be affected. The layoffs are set to take effect beginning Sept. 20, according to the notice, which cites COVID-19 as the reason.
Restaurants across the city have been adjusting to delivery, take-out and outdoor dining as the coronavirus pandemic forced a citywide shutdown of indoor dining and has now left many at limited capacity inside.
According to Illinois Restaurant Association President Sam Toia, restaurant sales are down 50 to 70 percent from last year, and it’s predicted that 86 percent of restaurants won’t make a profit.
In the West Loop, where many of Boka’s restaurants are located, streets have been shut down to make room for more outdoor dining.
Still, restaurants across the city have been operating on different levels as they look to survive and brace for what will happen as colder weather looms. Others have been forced to close their doors for good.
Last month, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot launched a winter design challenge in an attempt to “reimagine the winter outdoor dining experience.”
As it stands, Chicago restaurants can only operate at 25 percent capacity indoors, and Toia says increasing that number to 50% in the coming months, will be key.
“Our restaurants and bars are the heart and soul of the city, and we must do everything possible to keep them operational during the harsh winter months,” Toia said. “We need out-of-the-box thinking to address the hardship facing our industry.”