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Gov. Pritzker announces schools will be closed for remainder of school year

In his daily news conference on Friday afternoon, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that Illinois schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year due to COVID-19 concerns.

“My decisions are hard ones but they will follow the science and the science says our students can’t go back to their normal routine,” Pritzker said. “Trust me when I say this was not a decision that I made lightly.”

Pritzker announced that he would sign an executive order loosening requirements around professional licenses for new teachers in order to ensure that school districts have the additional staff needed to navigate this “unique situation.”

He also said that students’ grades for the remote learning period of this school year should be given with consideration of the unprecedented environment in which they have had to learn.

On Friday afternoon, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,842 new cases of the coronavirus, the state’s highest single-day total in cases to date.

IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike also reported 62 additional deaths due to COVID-19, bringing statewide totals to 1,134 deaths and 27,575 confirmed cases.

DeKalb District 428 Superintendent Jamie Craven said while he hadn’t heard an official announcement yet as of noon Friday, he wouldn’t be surprised by the order, especially in the light a letter the district received from he DeKalb County Health Department on Thursday.

“Yesterday we got an unusual correspondence form the health department that embedded in that letter there was some hints that this stay-at-home distancing was going to be extended,” Craven said. “So it doesn’t surprise me that the governor’s going to extend this.”

Craven said the district would continue e-learning as they’ve done for over a month, but end-of-year events will need to be reconsidered.

“We have a draft plan to share with the board on how end-of-year grades will be determined,” Craven said. “Then there’s so many things that districts have to consider: how do students retrieve personal items? Do we try to have a graduation sometime in June? Try to do a virtual graduation? What about end-of-year honors nights? We’re still trying to work through those plans.”

The executive stay-at-home order was extended through the end of April already, though Pritzker had yet to make a decision on public, private and charter schools in the state beyond that date.

“Remote learning looks different in each one of our communities and that’s encouraged,” Pritzker said in Friday afternoon’s press conference. He added that teachers and administrators

Neighboring states such as Missouri and Indiana have already made the decision to keep schools shut down in an effort to slow the spread of the viral disease. Thursday, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced the largest single-day death total, with a total of more than 1,000 Illinoisans dead from COVID-19 so far.

Thursday, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced all Wisconsin schools would close for the rest of the school year.

New deaths announced Friday include:

– Boone County: 1 female 60s

– Cook County: 2 females 40s, 1 male 40s, 2 males 50s, 2 females 60s, 5 males 60s, 4 females 70s, 4 males 70s, 5 females 80s, 5 males 80s, 3 females 90s, 4 males 90s

– DuPage County: 1 male 60s, 2 males 70s, 1 female 80s, 3 males 80s, 2 females 90s

– Kane County: 1 male 60s, 1 male 90s, 1 male 100+

– Lake County: 1 male 90s

– Macon County: 1 female 80s, 1 female 90s

– Madison County: 1 female 60s, 1 male 60s

– Monroe County: 1 female 80s

– Randolph County: 1 male 80s

– St. Clair County 1 unknown 60s, 1 female 70s, 1 male 80s

– Will County: 2 males 80s

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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