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By: Angela Simmons, Weekly Editor
During his March 31 press conference, Governor JB Pritzker announced he would be extending the State of Illinois Disaster Proclamation, the stay at home order, and the suspension of on-site learning at schools through April 30.
“My priority through each and every one of these decisions has been and continues to be saving as many lives as possible. That’s the one goal that I will put above all others every time,” Pritzker said, and mentioned again that he was leaning on science to guide his decisions.
He noted that Illinois has gone from a handful of cases in one county to nearly 6,000 across the state.
“We need to maintain our course and keep working to flatten the curve. The virus’ spread is growing, so are its risks. we must not let up now,” said Pritzker.
He said he’s directed his staff to do “anything they can for our families that are hurting,” including delayed income tax filing, expanded and fast-tracked unemployment, and expanded Medicaid and Snap programs, as well as a moratorium on evictions and utility shut offs.
Pritzker applauded the creativity of Illinois school administrators for all of their hard work. Schools will now transition from Act of God days to remote learning days. School districts are working with the Illinois State Board of Education to best plan what remote learning will look like in their districts for all students.
“Remote learning may be different for every district, and every school,” Pritzker said. He continued that grades should be used as feedback, not “as an instrument of compliance.”
Pritzker, the father of two teenagers, said he knows this is not how students saw their spring semester going, being derailed by a pandemic.
“I won’t try and tell you that texting and calling each other is the same as hanging out in the hallways o in the lunchroom, I won’t try and tell you that a Zoom prom is the same as a real prom, and I won’t try and tell you not to be said about the lost goals and plans that you may have had for March and April. It’ okay to be sad, and if you do feel sad, or frustrated, or angry- whatever you feel, please let yourself feel that way. Don’t beat yourself up over being human. And if you’re experiencing overwhelming anxiety, or you have a friend who is, an you need someone to talk to, there are resources available to you by phone and online through both ISBE and our Department of Human Services.”
He continued “I also want to say something else. Once you’re ready, take a look around. Take in the incredibly unique moment you’re living in. Yes it’s scary, and it’s uncertain, and difficult, but if you’re looking for a lesson on fundamental goodness of people, and of your community, it’s right there in front of you.”
He noted school districts across Illinois that have donated PPE or iPads to local hospitals, and encouraged students to follow the examples of the leaders in their districts.
“There are plenty of people to learn from, there’s plenty of hope,” he said.
Illinois Department of Public Health announced 937 new cases of COVID-19, and an additional 26 deaths across 54 counties in Illinois. Cook County and City of Chicago combined account for 4,496 confirmed cases and 61 deaths. St. Clair County is reporting 43 confirmed cases and two deaths, with 74 tests pending.
IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike said the Center for Disease Control has said COVID-19 can be transmitted 24 to 48 hours prior to someone exhibiting symptoms, something she said makes it extremely important for people to stay home unless absolutely necessary.
After noticing several groups congregating at local parks, the City of O’Fallon decided to close some of the park structures. “The City hopes to be able to keep parks open for walkers/joggers who socially distance–BUT gatherings of people and kids who are playing basketball, soccer, baseball or using pavilions can further the spread and increase closures. Effective, March 31, 2020 all basketball courts, pavilions, playgrounds, restrooms, batting cages, the skatepark, Sports Park baseball fields, and Blazier field (Community Park field #1) will be closed. O’Fallon parks will remain open, but proper social distancing must be maintained at all times. We all need to do our part to get beyond this as soon as possible, and to not overwhelm our hospitals. The peaks are expected to come sometime between April 9 and 18, and more social gatherings will prolong or intensify this.”
Parents of school children in Shiloh, Lebanon and O’Fallon districts should have received communication from their student’s district on their plan for remote learning. If you have not received any information by tomorrow, April 1, please contact your district.