Afternoon Edition: May 27, 2020

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

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Sarah Marton, left, talks with her son Cooper Marton, an 8th grader at Disney II Magnet School, while he does school work on his computer.


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.

This afternoon will be partly sunny, with a high around 84 degrees. Showers and thunderstorms are in the forecast for this evening as the low falls to near 67 degrees. Tomorrow, rain and thunderstorms are again possible, and the high will be near 77 degrees.

Top story

Less than 60 percent of CPS students are logging on for online classes most days, new data shows

Newly released and long-awaited data from the nation’s third-largest school system shows what many have suspected: In the best circumstances, remote learning has been an uneven and dubious replacement for in-person instruction; and in the worst, it has left students entirely disconnected from their teachers.

Fewer than 60% of all Chicago Public Schools students are engaging with online remote learning three or more days per week, data unveiled today shows. Vulnerable populations, such as kids who are homeless and black and Latino students whose families have been disproportionately hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, are logging on at lower rates. And tens of thousands of students aren’t being reached by their schools at all despite computer and internet access having largely been achieved.

The report, which includes some of the most detailed metrics in the country, measures 294,000 students at district-run schools and focuses on the week of May 11, the most recently measured time span which also saw the best engagement thus far.

The data shows about 85% of students were successfully contacted by someone at their school at least once the week of May 11, whether to check in for academic reasons or to offer social and emotional support. But more than 43,000 students weren’t reached that week — especially high schoolers, a quarter of whom had no contact with their school.

“Remote learning is not perfect,” CPS Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade said. “As an educator, I want to see all kids engaged. Ultimately that’s what I would love to see. But I know that remote learning is not perfect. So my expectation was growth.”

McDade said her goal has been to find populations that aren’t seeing week-over-week improvements so CPS can use those metrics to identify where to focus their efforts.

Engagement has steadily risen since remote learning started the week of March 13, when slightly less than half the district logged on three or more days that week.

But the effort to bridge the so-called “digital divide” hasn’t necessarily translated to online learning for all students. In mid-April, one in three students started remote learning without a computer. District officials said 93% of students now have digital access, including a laptop and internet connection, after more than 100,000 laptops and tablets were passed out in recent weeks.

Yet 58,000 kids, about a quarter of all students, didn’t log onto a Google digital learning site — the platform used in the vast majority of CPS schools — at all the week of May 11.

Read Nader Issa’s full story here.

More news you need

  1. More people have died in Cook County in less than five months this year than in all of last year. Over half of those 2020 deaths were linked to COVID-19.
  2. As many as 130,000 employees — one-third of those sidelined by the pandemic — could return to work under Phase 3 of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plan to reopen the Chicago economy. Here’s what else you can expect under Lightfoot’s plan.
  3. Another 160 people have died of COVID-19 in Illinois, with the state’s fatalities now totaling 5,083. The toll ends a four-day streak of daily counts below 100 deaths.
  4. A crowd of people allegedly threw bottles at police officers last night while the officers were arresting someone with a gun following a Wentworth Gardens shooting that wounded a 5-year-old girl and two teenage boys. No officers were injured.
  5. The Museum of Science and Industry has laid off about one quarter of its staff, citing the financial challenges of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. In total, the museum has laid off 84 of its 358 full-time employees.
  6. Two employees of the Tootsie Roll manufacturing plant on the Southwest Side have died of COVID-19. Cosme Tenorio and Angel Butron loved their jobs at the candymaker, their families said.
  7. Chicago’s virtual graduation ceremony to send off the city’s high school seniors will be held Sunday, June 14 at 1 p.m. Oprah Winfrey is set to make the commencement address.
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A bright one

No summer camp? No problem. Here are 5 ways to re-create the experience for kids stuck at home

We are headed into possibly the weirdest summer ever. One of the most anchoring aspects of the season for both kids and parents, summer camp, is probably canceled. Or at least it’s going to look very, very different.

Camps provide critical development opportunities for kids — different than school, with different end goals. But there are ways to capture the important experiences of camp going while you stay home.


Natasha Norwood, left, is chased around by her brother John-Michael in the front yard of the Norwood families home.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Some camp counselors are are offering their ideas to do just that. They recommend taking any activity, from art to science projects, outdoors, just like at camp. Or meeting new friends virtually, which YMCA and other camps are facilitating with programs that allow small groups to meet up online and work on activities as a team.

Hour-long diversions could be hiding behind ordinary items laying around your house. Mix plain old markers with water and watch them turn into watercolors for painting, or use baking soda and vinegar to build a volcano in the mud outside. Have a “color of the rainbow” week and for each day, wear that color and eat something that color.

The most important thing? Stay busy, camp counselors say.

Read the full story for more camp from home ideas.

From the press box

Which Bulls player would benefit most from a restart of the NBA season? There’s no doubt that Coby White could use some more games to show the new front office he’s got the skills to be the franchise’s point guard of the future, Joe Cowley writes.

Your daily question ☕

For families quarantining together, how is it living with your parents or grown kids again?

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

Yesterday, we asked you how you celebrated Memorial Day differently this year. Here’s what some of you said…

“Well, my Indy 500 tickets are still in the drawer awaiting the rescheduled race in August, which pretty much sums it up for me.” — Greg Harrison

“Same party just a few less people.” — Jim Cooper

“Stayed home and cooked. Blue cheese crusted Filet Mignon in the oven to medium rare perfection with roasted asparagus spears. My daughter is an executive chef… just trying to keep up.” — Deborah Fuller Tobias

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