Afternoon Edition: March 13, 2020

Today’s update is a 4-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 4-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’re kicking off the weekend right this afternoon with sunny skies and a high near 46 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 32 degrees. This weekend, it’ll be chilly, with a slight chance of snow and high near 37 degrees on Saturday, and a high near 41 degrees on Sunday.

Top story

Why closing Chicago’s public schools is such a hard decision — even if it seems necessary

At Chicago Public Schools, a district with 270,000 students who are poor and 17,000 homeless, the decision is harder than it looks to close its more than 640 schools for coronavirus mitigation.

Even as medical experts say the risk to children appears low — a Chicago boy at a private school who tested positive this week is in good condition, officials said today — they have stressed that children can spread the coronavirus to vulnerable older relatives or teachers.

But taking the decisive step to send kids home has proven difficult for Illinois and Chicago officials— who already lost several days of instruction following a 12-day teachers strike last fall — even as Ohio, Maryland, Michigan, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco and many others announced widespread school closures this week.

That’s because families in low-income and under-resourced communities rely on schools for breakfast, lunch and daycare for their children. Some of those families have technology deficits at home. Students with complex needs in special education programs depend on the care of trained professionals. Parents who work hourly or are self-employed might not be able to afford taking time off work to care for their young children.

CPS says it’s still forming its contingency plan if schools were to close, but that hasn’t yet been unveiled. The city’s capacity for quickly putting together the type of relief that would be needed — food, shelter and sick leave — is unclear, especially given the extra limitations during a public health emergency.

Read the full story from education reporter Nader Issa. And here’s a full list of local school closures.

More news you need

  1. A Cook County jury today began deliberating the fate of a four-time felon charged with murdering Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer. Here’s what happened in court.
  2. Given the uncertainties surrounding Tuesday’s primary elections in Illinois because of COVID-19, our Editorial Board would like to reemphasize its endorsements in four key races that could be close. Read about who they’re backing, and why.
  3. Ahead of St. Patrick’s Day, many Irish Americans will be bursting with cultural pride. Edward Cox, 85, celebrates that culture weekly: For 30 years, the Irish American artist has been painting murals at the Irish American Heritage Center. Now, he’s drawn in his granddaughter to help.
  4. As your plans inevitably get canceled this weekend, and you decide to order in, here’s a silver lining: GrubHub is temporarily waving its delivery fees for independent restaurants to ease the financial burden of COVID-19. How much the move will save restaurants.
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A bright one

“Chicagohenge” is less than a week away.

If you’re not familiar with the term, it refers to the week following the spring equinox (or the week leading up to the fall equinox) when the sun lines up exactly with Chicago’s east-west streets during sunrise and sunset.

It creates a dazzling affect: the sun shines directly though the Loop’s grid, illuminating the buildings in a fierce orange. Chicagoans entranced by the beauty of it stand in the middle of downtown streets in rush hour traffic to capture the perfect photo.


The phenomenon is known as “Chicagohenge,” and it refers to time around the equinox when the sun lines up exactly with Chicago’s east-west streets.

Barry Butler Photography

The phenomenon is known as “Chicagohenge,” and it refers to time around the equinox when the sun lines up exactly with Chicago’s east-west streets. | Barry Butler Photography

“Chicagohenge” occurs twice a year around the fall and spring equinoxes. This year, the spring equinox is on Thursday, March 19. To see “Chicagohenge,” you need to stand on an unobstructed east-west street around sunset or sunrise in the days right after Thursday.

If you do decide to check it out, make sure you look up at the sky instead of directly into the sun. And if you miss it, you’ll get another chance in September.

Read more about “Chicagohenge” and why it occurs.

From the press box

So there’s no sports happening, no balls dribbling, no pucks shooting, for at least the next 30 days. Yes, the sports world is an absolute ghost town. But stories still need to be told and pages need to be filled. 

So what will we do? Talk sports, duh.

Our columnist Rick Morrissey shares a few ideas on how we’ll pass the time for the next month or so without live sports. 

Meanwhile, one Bulls player who might be greatly affected by the NBA’s 30-day hiatus is rookie Coby White, who earned his first career start one day before the league’s self-imposed shutdown. 


Your daily question ☕

As health officials encourage “social distancing” amid coronavirus fears, what are you planning on doing during your time at home?

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

Yesterday, we asked you if you think Bernie Sanders should drop out of the Democratic presidential primary to grant Joe Biden a clean victory, after our Editorial Board recommended it. Here’s what some of you said:

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