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Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Tuesday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 4/28/2020 By Chicago Tribune staff, Chicago Tribune
a close up of a person: Ana Santoyo wears a face mask with a message on April 25, 2020, at a protest over the collection of rent during the coronavirus pandemic. © John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS Ana Santoyo wears a face mask with a message on April 25, 2020, at a protest over the collection of rent during the coronavirus pandemic.

Political divisions over Illinois’ stay-at-home order were on full display Monday, as a judge issued a temporary injunction allowing a Republican legislator to disregard the restrictions. Gov. J.B. Pritzker was quick to denounce the decision while forcefully defending his actions to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The flare-up came as state officials announced 1,980 new known cases of COVID-19 Monday and 50 additional deaths. The statewide total of known cases now stands at 45,883 in 96 counties, and the statewide death toll is 1,983.

Here’s what’s happening on Tuesday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:

6 a.m.: Expect changes if college campuses reopen in the fall: ‘All of this is in uncharted waters’

While some Illinois colleges say they hope to make a determination in June or July about whether to reopen in the fall, the outcome will largely hinge on how public health experts evaluate the threat of the coronavirus. The decision will also depend on when Gov. J.B. Pritzker lifts the state’s stay-at-home order. On Thursday, he extended the order for a second time, so it won’t expire until at least the end of May.

a person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: A man is tested for coronavirus outside Loretto Hospital in Chicago on April 27, 2020. © Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS A man is tested for coronavirus outside Loretto Hospital in Chicago on April 27, 2020.

“All of this is in uncharted waters, and so we’re doing our best to try to plan for an uncertain fall semester,” said Larry Dietz, president of Illinois State University. “For fall, we’re looking at several scenarios. ... I think all of us know that (campus) is probably not going to be as open as it was in the fall of 2019, before we even knew the term coronavirus.”

Social distancing measures are also being floated for residence halls, where about 6,000 students typically live during the school year, Dietz said. To reduce potential crowding, the school is considering capping the number of students approved for the dorms, which make up the bulk of its housing stock, and trying to place more in apartments, some of which are university owned.

Colleges and universities nationwide are grappling with how to approach the fall semester, while also worrying that fewer students will want to attend and pay for tuition if classes need to remain online. Read more here. — Elyssa Cherney

6 a.m.: Donors come to rescue of Illinois school district struggling with digital divide

Since the March shutdown of schools across Illinois, teachers at one rural southwestern district have been stuffing 800 envelopes with learning packets and mailing them to students’ homes because many families in the area don’t have computers or high-speed internet.

Trico District 176’s remote learning challenges were highlighted in a Tribune-ProPublica Illinois story last month that exposed a digital divide across Illinois as schools shifted to remote learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic. State agencies later released a map touting publicly accessible Wi-Fi hot spots at about 250 locations; none are in the 250 square miles that make up the Trico district.

That’s about to change. A local internet provider is installing Wi-Fi service to connect families to the district network. An anonymous donor pledged to donate a dozen hot spots. And a school district in Chicago’s suburbs said it would ship about 250 used Chromebooks to Trico when the computers are replaced after this school year. Read more here. — Jodi S. Cohen, ProPublica, Jennifer Smith Richards, Chicago Tribune

6 a.m.: You can learn math and English online, but how about baking or pottery? Hands-on education challenged after COVID-19 closes schools.

As students and teachers across Illinois continue to adjust to the long-distance education prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the learning curve has been steepest for those in hands-on courses, like baking or drivers ed, where classroom conditions are impossible to simulate via email or video chats.

That has forced educators and learners alike to become more resourceful and innovative, though in some cases, there is no substitute for what was left behind when their schools closed.

“They can read about it, but to be in a kitchen with a professional chef showing them what can go wrong, other ways to make their pastry or desserts, that part of it is missing,” said College of Lake County baking and pastry instructor Teresa Novinska. “More of them are making more mistakes that I probably could have caught.” Read more here. — John Keilman

April 27

Here are five things that happened Monday that you need to know:


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