Afternoon Edition: Oct. 5, 2020

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Many families worry their students are spending too much time on computer screens during remote learning.

CPS has used the technology tool “GoGuardian” to help teachers keep students on track during lessons by granting educators remote access to a limited set of functions on a student’s computer.

Sun-Times file photo

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

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Afternoon Edition

Chicago’s most important news of the day, delivered every weekday afternoon. Plus, a bonus issue on Saturdays that dives into the city’s storied history.

We’ve got a beautiful fall afternoon in the forecast: sunny with a high near 64 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 51 degrees. Tomorrow will be warmer: sunny with a high near 72 degrees.

Top story

CPS teachers could look inside students’ homes — without their knowledge — before fix

Remote learning has brought school home for thousands of Chicago students during the pandemic, turning a living room or bedroom into a makeshift classroom.

But many families worry that means giving up home privacy for their children’s access to lessons through technology.

As it turns out, that tradeoff might in fact have been happening for the first few weeks of the school year.

An e-learning tool used by Chicago Public Schools essentially gave teachers access to tens of thousands of students’ computer cameras and microphones — allowing them to look into their homes without their permission or knowledge — before the problem was fixed late last month.

CPS has used the technology tool “GoGuardian” to help teachers keep students on track during lessons by granting educators remote access to a limited set of functions on a student’s computer. The application allows teachers the ability to see what students have open on their computer screens, as well as the power to open websites on a student’s laptop, switch tabs, block sites and view browsing histories.

Many parents and teachers have said this access has been beneficial in helping make sure students, especially younger ones, are involved in learning during school hours.

But until recent changes, a teacher could also remotely start a Google Meet video session with a student, leading to a meeting preview automatically popping up on the student’s Chromebook.

That preview would show a live video inside a student’s home taken through a student’s webcam. That meant a teacher viewing a student’s screen using GoGuardian could watch the video preview even before the student had agreed to start the meeting or knew it was taking place.

While CPS spokeswoman Emily Bolton said GoGuardian did not directly give anyone remote control of or access to a camera or microphone, she acknowledged the preview function essentially allowed just that. CPS has since changed the settings that defaulted to cameras and microphones automatically turning on.

“The district takes student privacy concerns seriously and acted swiftly upon learning of concerns from parents about the original default functionality of GoGuardian. With the update, students must manually turn on their audio and video settings to be seen and heard by their teacher,” Bolton said.

Read Nader Issa’s full story here.

More news you need

  1. Mayor Lori Lightfoot is pushing back her 2021 budget address — until Oct. 21 — to give Congress more time to ride to the rescue, City Hall sources said today. Chicago faces a record $1.2 billion shortfall in next year’s budget, $783 million of it revenue lost to the coronavirus.
  2. Three finalists for the next round of cannabis dispensary licenses — including a group with deep ties to Illinois politics and a major pot firm — have filed suit in a bid to prevent the state from adding more applicants to an upcoming lottery to determine the winners. Tom Schuba explains what’s at stake.
  3. Five people were killed and 32 others, including four teenagers, were wounded in shootings across Chicago over the weekend. The first weekend in October followed a September that saw violence in the city decline as cooler weather moved in.
  4. The president of the Chicago Teachers Union said it’s time for Chicago Public Schools to make facilities safe — following an arbitrator’s ruling last week that said schools are currently unsafe for clerks and other employees. “You can’t learn if you’re dead,” Jesse Sharkey said.
  5. A federal judge shot down an aging mobster’s bid for compassionate release from prison today, pointing to his purported role in the “cold-blooded murder” of a potential witness and the “infamous racketeering enterprise” to which he belonged. Paul Schiro, 83, asked for early release in March under the First Step Act.
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A bright one

Florida man stops in Chicago to help out-of-work people with professional portraits

Harry Aaron, a photographer from Orlando who has made a career documenting the NBA and NFL as well as professional wrestling and Major League Soccer, saw his income dry up when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

So he got in his bright red Chevy Cruze and started driving across the country, including a stop in Chicago, to provide professional headshots on a “pay-what-you-can basis” to unemployed workers and out-of-work performers. By the trip’s end, the 28-year-old will have put 3,500 miles on his car’s odometer and passed through 20 cities.

“It is something where, city to city, I am in the same shoes as a lot of people I am shooting,” Aaron said. “My unemployment has run out, I don’t know when my next steady gig is going to be or how I am going to pay my rent back home.”

“It started as something to help others but has almost turned into a life raft for me,” Aaron said.


Harry Aaron, with camera in hand, leans next to the Chevy Cruze he’s driving across the country and living in while offering headshots to unemployed workers.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

He gives each person 10 minutes, taking as many photos of them as he can in that time. The person picks their favorite three, which Aaron edits and sends to them within a couple of days.

Nadia Bernal, 19, drove from Uptown to get her first-ever headshots with Aaron in Logan Square. She was nervous, but Aaron helped calm her down, she said.

“I think it’s really nice what [Aaron] is doing by helping unemployed workers and performing artists get their headshots,” Bernal said. “It is just amazing that he is going out of his way to just help people who are in need at this time.”

Read Manny Ramos’ full story here.

From the press box

With Tarik Cohen out for the season, it’s clear the Bears’ running game now relies entirely on David Montgomery, Jason Lieser writes. Unfortunately, that didn’t add up to much against the Colts after the offense had a strong start on the ground through three weeks.

Jon Lester knows his time in Chicago might be over, but if so, his legacy will endure for a long time in the Cubs’ clubhouse. ‘‘Jon’s meant a lot to me since I came up in [2015],’’ Kyle Schwarber said.

Your daily question ☕

Why is the election on Nov. 3 important to you?

Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Friday, we asked you: What did you think when you learned President Donald Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus? Here’s what some of you said…

“This scourge devastating the American people does not discriminate between Republican and Democrat. I don’t like Trump and his course of action, but I would never wish this dreaded illness on him or his family. Yes I want him out, but I want him voted out.” — Thomas Stenson

“I think it’s too bad and I pray for him to have a speedy recovery. No matter who you’re voting for in the coming election, no one should wish this on anyone.” — Emma Swenson

“One word: karma. He is the president of the U.S. and should be a role model, but I don’t see him wearing a mask or taking the necessary safety precautions half of the time.” — Tiegan Matusik

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