Afternoon Edition: Jan. 11, 2021

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

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Pre-kindergarten students listen as their teacher reads a story at Dawes Elementary in Chicago, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/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 mostly cloudy with a high near 30 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 25 degrees. Tomorrow will also be cloudy with a high around 36 degrees.

Top story

Coats, hats and masks: First CPS students return to new version of school, under protest by teachers

Young kids bundled in winter coats, hats and gloves held their parents’ hands as they walked into school for the first time this year.

For a few moments this morning, Chicago Public Schools resembled normal times at a handful of buildings around the city.

But as thousands of students went back to their classrooms for the first time during the pandemic, a step that could begin a return to normalcy for many, another reality met them on the inside.

Some 6,000 preschoolers and special education students with complex disabilities are expected to be in classrooms to start the week, representing a fraction of the 77,000 children who are set to take part in the city’s phased-in resumption of in-person learning. CPS has ordered about 4,300 teachers and staff back to schools today, though it’s unclear how many will show up. More than a third of employees refused to work in-person last week; those who don’t show up this week won’t be paid, CPS has said.

Masks and social distancing have replaced the familiar atmosphere children are used to finding in their schools, while pre-kindergarten students are likely experiencing school for the first time in these pandemic conditions.

Thousands of teachers and families, meanwhile, continue to protest that the resumption of in-person learning is coming too soon as coronavirus infections continue to spread.

The Chicago Teachers Union, which has gone all out in trying to delay this day, is planning several demonstrations around the city.

Fear, hope and uncertainty all were present as teachers and children returned to Suder Montessori Magnet School on the Near West Side.

Teacher Celine Guerrero had difficulty getting the words out.

“I don’t know how I feel right now,” she said. “I really don’t have any words. I want to be here for my students, but I also have three young children at home and I’m afraid to go home later.”

She said she’s done her best to get her classroom clean and otherwise ready, with the help of her teaching assistant.

“I’m torn, I’m just very torn,” Guerrero said.

Read the full story from Nader Issa, Stefano Esposito and Fran Spielman on what CPS students, teachers and staff experienced upon returning to classrooms today.

More news you need

  1. In a stunning move, Speaker Michael Madigan has suspended his campaign for the position he’s held for nearly four decades after falling short of receiving the 60 votes needed to secure another term. Madigan announced the decision this morning after 51 House Democrats voted in favor of his bid to remain in the position.
  2. The Chicago Teachers Union notched a big win in its bid to expand bargaining power with the city today when state lawmakers voted to repeal an educational labor law that limits the CTU’s bargaining rights. The bill, which already passed the House last year, now heads to the desk of Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who has not said if he plans to sign it.
  3. The director of the state’s Veterans’ Affairs Department is stepping down, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced today, capping a tenure that saw the coronavirus claim the lives of 72 veterans living in state homes. Linda Chapa LaVia was tapped by Pritzker to lead the department in 2019.
  4. Nearly three-quarters of the City Council has backed a resolution calling for Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara’s resignation after he defended the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol last week. Catanzara, who was rebuked by the National FOP, has since apologized.
  5. While the House proceeds with legislation to impeach President Donald Trump, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said today that impeachment is not what a divided nation needs to heal. Lightfoot told reporters she’s worried “about the potential for distraction.”
  6. State health officials reported 53 coronavirus-related deaths and 4,776 new cases today. That brings the total death toll in Illinois to 17,627 since the start of the pandemic.
  7. Chicago’s mayor also extended the city’s stay-at-home advisory for the coronavirus pandemic through Jan. 22, the same day the state mandate is set to expire. The mayor insisted there’s no disconnect between the CPS reopening and the ongoing COVID-19 advisory.
  8. Rep. Darren Bailey is doing well after collapsing on the floor of the Bank of Springfield Center during state legislature proceedings over the weekend. Bailey’s chief of staff says the Republican remains in the hospital but should be out soon if his tests come back clear.
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A bright one

Chicago rapper Pinqy Ring sees a shift in how women in hip-hop are viewed, pushing for systemic change

When hip-hop fans — mostly men — admonished superstar rappers Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion for their 2020 chart-topping track “WAP,” some of them questioned why the duo had to “resort” to raunchy lyrics to generate interest.

That same subset, at times, historically fails to champion rappers like Rapsody, Rah Digga, Jean Grae or their Chicago counterparts Dreezy, Baha Bank$, Ang13, Psalm One, or Humboldt Park-raised MC Pinqy Ring — who says just because things are changing doesn’t mean she should settle for less.

“I do see a shift happening where — particularly women in the underground — are being paid more attention to,” said Marisol Velez, who performs as Pinqy Ring in English and Spanish. “Women like Princess Nokia, or Noname, or a Sa-Roc — you really got to do your research to know who they are, or to find them.”


Hip-hop artist Pinqy Ring sits in her home recording studio in Logan Square.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Velez, unfortunately, is all too familiar with the antics women in hip-hop put up with: “Men hate to see a powerful woman with a voice because what happens is we start talking about the way in which men have been unfair, the way in which they have been misogynistic in the way in which they’ve stopped opportunities for us to excel and for us to grow.”

Instead of playing politics with hip-hop’s gatekeepers, Velez, a Lane Tech College Prep High School graduate, puts her energy into making sure the road is smoother for the next generation of young girls by teaching a hip-hop songwriting and entrepreneurship after-school course through After School Matters at Roberto Clemente Community Academy.

Her curriculum tackles self-confidence, anti-bullying, body positivity, identity, creative writing and feminism, among other topics.

Read Evan F. Moore’s full story here.

From the press box

Coming off of their disappointing loss to the Saints in the playoffs yesterday, Bears players met with Matt Nagy and the coaching staff for postseason exit interviews today. In the past, when the team fired a head coach, it’s been early in the morning the day after the season. This morning was quiet, though.

One player can see himself returning: Mitch Trubisky, who told reporters, “I can definitely see myself back here next year,” when asked about his upcoming free agency.

And tomorrow night’s Bulls-Celtics game has been postponed by the NBA due to the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

Your daily question ☕

How satisfied are you with the Bears’ 8-8 season and quick elimination from the playoffs?

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

On Friday, we asked you: What do you plan on doing this weekend to relax and unwind? Here’s what some of you said…

“Getting cozy with Netflix, HBOMax, and a few family-size bags of Doritos” — Chris Vaughn

“Go get me some good tacos!!” — Marvin Medina

Read, spend time at home with my little family, watch the Bears upset the Saints!” — Dan Byrk

(Editor’s Note: Sorry to everyone who thought watching the Bears would be relaxing!)

“Curl up on a couch with a warm blanket and a hot cup of coffee and watch some good movies.” — Dixie Somerville

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

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