Afternoon Edition: July 29, 2020

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

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Jeremiah Wells (5), left, walks with his mom Diana Martinez in front of Heritage Elementary School in Streamwood Ill. Jeremiah will be starting Kindergarten at Heritage this coming fall via online classes.

Tyler LaRiviere/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.

This afternoon will be sunny and hot, with a high near 88 degrees, but it’s possible that we could see some showers or thunderstorms this afternoon, too. Tonight’s low will be around 70 degrees. Tomorrow will be much cooler: Sunny with a high near 82.

Top story

Suburban districts flip-flop, nix in-person learning for fall after initially planning to reopen schools

School districts in some of Chicago’s largest suburbs had planned to kick off the fall with students back in classrooms at least part-time.

But with the start of school less than a month away and pressure mounting from anxious parents and teachers during a raging pandemic, some of those very districts have backtracked and will now start the year fully remote.

Others plan to stick with a hybrid model to get students in school at least occasionally, and most districts, whether they’re planning to bring kids back on a limited basis or not at all, are pledging to improve the online learning experience from the end of last school year.

Online learning will include more live teaching sessions in Elgin Area School District U-46 schools, the second-largest district in the state after Chicago Public Schools. The district’s decision to go fully remote came after it had initially been leaning toward a hybrid model. 

Evanston Township High School District 202, South Holland School District 150 and J. Sterling Morton High School District 201 are all also starting the year fully remote, with the option to ease into in-person classes part-time if the districts decide it’s safe to do so.

Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 plans on reopening all elementary schools for in-person classes in the fall and implementing a hybrid model for middle and high school students. But like other districts doing the same, those schools are facing tough questions from staff on how they’ll keep students and workers safe.

Max Schoenberg, a math teacher at York Community High School, said many District 205 teachers have concerns that the reopening plan doesn’t address. He said the model designates that all students on campus are required to eat lunch in the building, but since students will have to remove masks to eat, there’s no clear guidance on how students will be protected.

And while parents have the freedom to opt into full-time remote classes, teachers don’t have that choice. More than half of teachers in the district either have an underlying health condition or live with someone who does, he said.

“We’re caught in this dilemma. We would all rather be in person,” said Schoenberg. “But we want that experience when it’s safe.”

Batavia Public School District 101 is planning on starting the year with hybrid instruction and transitioning to all in-person classes after Labor Day, if local conditions allow. But the district is facing backlash as teachers claim they weren’t consulted about the fall plans.

“Teachers are ready as we’re going to be for the uncertainties of this year,” said Scott Bayer, a history teacher at Batavia High School. “But any plan put forward that your kids’ teachers don’t have a hand in creating cannot be implemented safely and effectively.”

To read about what other districts are doing, check out the full story from Clare Proctor.

More news you need

  1. Mercy Hospital & Medical Center said today that it plans to close in 2021, just weeks after a plan to merge with three other money-losing hospitals collapsed due to a lack of state funding. The hospital has been dealing with financial difficulties for decades.
  2. Any hope for a high school football season this fall seems to be gone after Governor J.B. Pritzker released a set of restrictions on high school, youth and adult recreational sports today. The guidelines divide sports into three risk levels, allowing different amounts of play based on current conditions.
  3. Kanye West and businessman Willie Wilson both face several challenges to their nominating petitions filed to get their names on the Illinois ballot Nov. 3. One Chicagoan is seeking to get West tossed from the ballot because he doesn’t think the rapper is mentally fit to be president.
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A bright one

Lloyd, Bobby V., Do Or Die to headline drive-in music festival at Soldier Field

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many of Chicago’s event curators to get creative when it comes to entertaining the masses. What we get are events like The Drive-In Fest, a music festival that will require attendees to park their cars one space apart at Soldier Field to hear sets from Lloyd, Pleasure P, Bobby V., and West Side hip-hop artists Do or Die.

The festival is the brainchild of five local Black promoters: Mike “Orie” Mosley (AFROTRAK); Ronald Platt, Bobby Burke, Charles Martin and Sigma Chris.

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Chart-topping singer-songwriter Lloyd headlines The Drive-In Fest.

The Drive-In Fest

“Chicago, unlike many of the other major cities across the nation, has a much smaller window of warmer weather,” said Mosley. “While it’s very important for us to continue to take safety precautions, we also realize that once this window is gone and fall comes, the weather might possibly make it even harder for everyone to gather. The drive-in concept provides this safe, summer alternative.”

Lawn chairs and blankets will be allowed at the Aug. 22event, but coolers, umbrellas, tents, grills and other furniture are not. Food trucks will be there for anyone who gets hungry.

For more information on tickets, read the full story.

From the press box

A day after Eddie Goldman opted out of playing next season, Bears GM Ryan Pace said this morning that he doesn’t expect any other members of the team to do the same.“It’s such an individual decision, such a personal decision that we’re very respectful of,” Pace said of Goldman.

The pandemic has upended the NFL preseason already, but Bears coach Matt Nagy reiterated today that it’s still an open competition at quarterback between Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles.

There’s also growing concern among Bulls players that the new front office isn’t listening to their input despite touting a “players first” approach, Joe Cowley reports.

Your daily question☕

Happy National Chicken Wing Day! What’s your favorite place to get chicken wings?

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 what you think of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s statement that we won’t be back to normal until 2021.Here’s what some of you said…

“First realistic assessment I’ve heard so far. No point saying the difficult journey ahead is going to be a walk in the park.”— Bert Freeman

“I appreciate the candor and I hope its not true. I think this response is overblown. I appreciate the real problems the virus is causing but I’d like to see people take more of a personal responsibility approach to keep themselves healthy after seeing how the disease acts.”— Tate Nudo

“Judging on how selfish and self-absorbed people are, 2021 is being optimistic.”— Amy Nieves

“Normal is never coming back. How can it? We have lost 150,000 Americans. Businesses have closed that will never reopen. This is a great tragedy and we are forever changed.”— Marilyn Scharko

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