Afternoon Edition: April 7, 2020

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

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Kiara Balleza, a student at Harold Washington College poses for a portrait near her home at the corner of West 66th street and South Whipple street, Friday afternoon, April 3, 2020.

Annie Costabile/Sun-Times

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.

Dig out those shorts and sandals, because it’ll feel like summer when you step outside this afternoon (just remember to keep your distance from others): partly sunny with a high near 78 degrees. Tonight, the low will drop to 48 degrees.

Top story

City Colleges students’ struggles magnified by pandemic, but school’s tech investment paying off

At City Colleges, where about two-thirds of students at some schools experience food and housing insecurity, getting a degree has never been easy. Now, the coronavirus pandemic is making staying — let alone thriving — in school exponentially harder.

Students at City Colleges are more likely than students at traditional four-year schools to have full-time jobs, be raising children or even be experiencing homelessness.

One student’s parents both got laid off. Another is working overtime at a grocery store because of the increased demand. Not to mention the many returning adult students in the health industry who are trying to get additional certifications while working on the front lines of the outbreak.

On top of those challenges, the colleges were rushing to essentially move all classes online overnight.

We’re making our vital coronavirus coverage free for all readers. See the latest news here.

But in interviews with us last week, students, faculty and staff at City Colleges said the rollout has been much smoother than anticipated. That’s because of the institution’s significant investment in digital education in recent years, as well as programs that loan students necessary equipment and let them retake classes for free — all of which has facilitated a quick and effective transition to online learning.

“If this had happened a few years ago, I don’t think City Colleges would have been able to handle this,” said English instructor Kristin Bivens, who teaches at Harold Washington College.

BrightSpace, an online education management tool, and Zoom, the video conferencing app, have allowed teachers to pivot their classes from face-to-face instruction to remote learning in as little as a week.

But moving student services — including student advising, financial aid and wellness services — online is a much bigger challenge, Provost Mark Potter said.

A survey released last year found 60% of students at Kennedy-King College reported they experienced food insecurity, and 69% reported housing insecurity. Across the colleges, 16% of students with children reported homelessness, the survey found.

The closures during the coronavirus pandemic are “just magnifying issues that were already there,” Bivens said.

Bivens said she is concerned that the colleges could see a drop in students attending classes after spring break, as some of her students say they are struggling to juggle child care and work during the crisis.

“I think students are having a really hard time right now,” she said.

Read Matthew Hendrickson’s full story.

More news you need

  1. Illinois officials today said another 73 people have died from the coronavirus, marking the highest single-day death count the state has experienced since the outbreak began. There have been 380 total deaths in Illinois due to COVID-19, with 13,549 total positive cases.
  2. Chicago and Illinois are a “long way away” from lifting the stay-at-home order, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said today. Although the rate of new COVID-19 cases is slowing, the number of cases here is “not near the peak,” she said.
  3. With critical weeks ahead in Illinois’ coronavirus fight, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration is stockpiling body bags — seeking more than 12,000 in total — in preparation for a worst-case scenario. That figure far exceeds most death projections for Illinois from COVID-19.
  4. The emergency room at Provident Hospital is temporarily closed after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus, and officials were told the layout of the department would hamper social distancing. Officials are working to “reconfigure” the space before reopening.
  5. A federal judge in Brooklyn shot down R. Kelly’s request to get out of jail amid the coronavirus outbreak today. The R&B singer will continue to sit behind bars while he awaits trial on federal indictments alleging racketeering, child pornography and obstruction of justice.
  6. Mayor Lightfoot today signed an executive order ensuring that all city disaster relief and other benefits and services offered to Chicagoans hard hit by the pandemic will be made available regardless of citizenship and immigration status. “We’re all in this together,” Lightfoot said.
  7. City housing officials said they expect to start issuing grants of $1,000 each this week to Chicagoans who have shown they need help with rent or mortgage payments. Recipients cannot have had income above 60% of the area’s median, which is about $53,000 a year for a family of four.

A bright one

In a time where all anyone can think about is the coronavirus pandemic, comedian Roy Wood Jr. wants to make people laugh as much as he can.

“I try to find what everyone is mad about and what’s the funny angle that can help us through,“ said said Roy Wood Jr. “With corona [virus], there’s not a lot of ‘funny’ with the center of the issue.”

Wood, a correspondent with Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” not only creates online videos showing thetrials and tribulationsof parents having to deal with their kids during the pandemic, he’s also lent his comedic chops to several fundraisers for comedians and service industry employees who are out of work.

One of the hilarious online shows he performed this week was with Chicago comedian Hannibal Buress. He posted a clip of it on Twitter (if you don’t already follow him there, do it, you’ll be happy when his tweets pop up on your feed).

Read Evan Moore’s full interview with Roy Wood Jr. In it, they discuss the Birmingham, Alabama, native’s many Chicago connections.

From the press box

The Bulls could potentially move forward this offseason without longtime executive John Paxson, who’s willing to leave the organization altogether if ownershipwants him to as part of a front office overhaul, Joe Cowley reports.

The team interviewed Jazz GM Justin Zanik yesterday, but several prime candidates have already bowed out of the running.

Your daily question☕

President Donald Trump wants major sports teams to get back toplaying ASAP, but when will you feel safe again being around tens of thousands of people?

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 to tell us how your routine has changed when you need to restock your groceries. Here’s what some of you wrote on Facebook…

“I usually spend $20 per trip. Yesterday I spent $120 plus and walked a mile home with at least 50+ lbs or more. Four bags in a hand. Rucking groceries is my new gym,” said Nick Short.

“I’ve only gone once, but I plan to go again tomorrow during senior hours. I’ll write out what I need, get it and leave. No browsing. The store has wipes for the cart. I also brought a clean cloth to put over the handle. Tomorrow I’ll wear a mask,” wrote Janis Prehn.

“It hasn’t, I go online, order my groceries, and have them delivered. Same as any other time,” said Matthew Huffman.

Thanks for reading the Chicago Afternoon Edition.Got a story you think we missed?Email us here.

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