Update 4:30pm Fri. 3/13: Thank you for advocating! Your voices were heard today. Gov. Pritzker announced all private and public schools will be closed beginning Tuesday March 17th through March 30th.
More advocating going to be needed in the months to come to make sure children and families and communities are getting what they need in very difficult times.
In response to the worldwide spread of COVID-19, a novel virus, Kentucky, Michigan, Maryland, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon have all closed schools statewide.
Many large urban districts around the US, Hartford, New Haven, Jersey City, Houston, Memphis, Nashville, Indianapolis, San Francisco, have also now closed.
Many private schools in IL have closed, and districts including New Trier and Winnetka D36, Evanston Township HS and D65, Lombard 44 have begun to close.
Unfortunately, despite mandating at a press conference on Thursday evening that any events with more than 1000 people are cancelled and recommending events with more than 250 should be cancelled, the Governor did not close schools statewide in Illinois and the Mayor didn't close Chicago Public Schools.
The guidance issued from ISBE and CPS says that absences are excused if parents keep their children home.
This is insufficient.
Social distancing means families should already, at a minimum, have been urged to keep their children home if at all possible. All schools in Illinois should be closed as of Monday.
Take a minute today to call the Governor and, if you are in Chicago, the Mayor and express your dismay that they have not made such an announcement:
Governor Pritzker: 217-782-6830 or 217-782-6831
Mayor Lightfoot: (312) 744-3300
Many teachers and staff are over 60 or have health conditions that make them especially vulnerable to COVID-19. The student population of our state’s public schools include children with these conditions too, e.g. diabetes, asthma, immunosuppressed, etc.
When closures take place, school districts and the state must do whatever needs to be done to keep children fed who rely on school for meals. And they should assist with emergency childcare arrangements for families with no other options. In particular, they must do whatever is needed to make sure that healthcare workers with children can keep doing their jobs.
Furthermore, state and local governments should do whatever it takes to make paid leave available for parents and guardians who are sick or are caring for others. Social distancing cannot happen if families cannot make alternative arrangements to stay out of work and school.