Illinois governor orders all schools closed

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has ordered all Illinois public and private schools in the state to be closed.

Posted: Mar 13, 2020 5:18 PM
Updated: Mar 13, 2020 9:43 PM

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday ordered the closing of every school in the state until March 30 starting Tuesday amid concerns over the spread of coronavirus.

Even as other states and large cities shut down schools this week, officials in Illinois and Chicago said they were not yet prepared to take that step in Chicago or statewide. Public health officials also said children appear to be less likely to become ill and those that do have milder cases.

Pritzker announced his decision in Chicago where more than 355,000 public school students will be affected. Statewide, nearly 2 million students will not be returning to the classroom.

“None of the choices that we have had to make over the last week have been easy or simple,” Pritzker said. “All of these choices have cascading effects.”

A day earlier, Pritzker mandated the cancellation of events of more than 1,000 people and encouraged organizers of events with at least 250 attendees to cancel on their own.

“Having the general public stay home one day at a time will have a massive effect on bending this curve,” he said. “And that means lives saved.”

It is the latest blow to Chicago families, where students were kept out of classes earlier in the school year by an 11-day strike by the district’s more than 21,000 teachers.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

The closing of schools comes the same week that many large universities in Illinois suspended in-person classes due to concerns about the virus, including the University of Illinois, Southern Illinois, DePaul, Northwestern and Illinois State universities.

On Thursday, the Illinois High School Association limited attendance at the remaining games in this year’s 2020 boys basketball tournament and other sporting events. Also, the University of Chicago on Thursday joined other major Illinois universities to institute remote learning for the spring quarter to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Dozens of school districts and schools had canceled on their own earlier in the day, including the Archdiocese of Chicago.

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Building on state guidance issued yesterday to promote social distancing and minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, Governor JB Pritzker announced that the state of Illinois will close all schools from March 17 through March 30 and implement additional economic measures to reduce the burden on Illinois families. As of now, day care centers will remain open and will follow strict health and safety guidance.

“All of these choices have cascading effects for citizens and vulnerable populations when it comes to food access, safety, childcare, and social services," said Governor JB Pritzker. “We’ve seen what happens in places that didn’t move with urgency. I ask all of you not to hesitate to do the right thing for your family, your friends, and your community. One small step at a time, we will get through this together.”

“We have seen evidence from influenza outbreaks that community mitigation strategies, such a school closures, have an effect on decreasing the severity of the outbreak,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “By taking these actions now, we hope to slow and limit widespread transmission of this virus, which is essential to ensuring our health care system is not overwhelmed as the disease progresses through our state. School closures will help slow the progression of the virus and we are asking for everyone’s help in reducing the spread.”

“This is an unprecedented event in our lifetime, and we will get through this together,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “Our administrators and educators have shown extraordinary leadership during a time of very difficult decisions. Schools closing will affect each community differently, and I want our teachers, our students, and our families to know that the Illinois State Board of Education is open and is here to help.”

SCHOOL CLOSURES

Following extensive state-level analysis of coronavirus spread in various countries and the social distancing measures that were put in place, the State is taking the precautionary measure of closing all K-12 schools in the state of Illinois from March 17 through March 30. Schools with a spring break that falls outside of this window should move their spring break to within this timeframe.

The Pritzker administration is working to ensure critical support functions remain available to students across the state – including their access to food, child care and safe environments.

Gov. Pritzker has assured school administrators that the state will issue no penalties as a result of this closure. To provide support to school districts across the state, the Illinois State Board of Education will be fully staffed over the coming weekend and during the closure period to work through individualized issues and challenges in each district. An executive order to provide school districts flexibility during this period is forthcoming.

On Thursday, the Illinois State Board of Education was granted a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to continue providing meals to students in non-group settings. Students receiving free and reduce priced breakfasts and lunches will be able to receive grab-and-go meals each day, with some districts having the ability to deliver and others offering parent pick up.

The Department of Children and Family Services is working closely with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Illinois Department of Public Health to ensure emergency and preparedness plans are in place to keep youth in care and staff safe. All DCFS group homes will remain open and take extra safety precautions.

ECONOMIC MEASURES

The Governor has also announced new economic measures to reduce the burden on Illinois families.

Gov. Pritzker and Attorney General Raoul have urged the Illinois Commerce Commission to immediately institute a moratorium on shutoffs for all utility companies across Illinois – including energy, telecommunications and water – until the state disaster proclamation has been lifted. The administration is also requesting changes to payment and collection policies to ensure Illinoisans aren’t saddled with utility debt as a result of COVID-19.

The Governor is contacting the leaders of Illinois’ utility companies and urging them to maintain services for all Illinoisans, regardless of their ability to pay, during this public health crisis.

The Pritzker administration is working directly with the eight major food banks across Illinois to expand services. The administration is reaching out to food manufacturers to ensure food banks are prioritized and can provide our vulnerable residents the food they need.

Earlier this week, the administration filed emergency rules granting workers who are unemployed due to COVID-19 access to unemployment benefits. The rules provide relief to people who may be restricted in the type of work they can perform due to the outbreak.

AVAILABILITY OF TESTING

The Illinois Department of Public Health is working with state labs and hospital partners to significantly increase testing capability. At this time the administration believes testing can be sufficiently increased to ensure the minimum level of surveillance testing needed to appropriately monitor the spread of the virus.

Gov. Pritzker is continuing to pressure the federal government for more tests to allow the state to deploy full surveillance testing.

HEIGHTENED VIGILANCE FOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC

Vulnerable populations remain a top priority as community spread continues around the state, country and globe. Elderly and immunocompromised residents should take extra caution when attending gatherings of any size and avoid exposure to large groups of people whenever possible. The state has implemented new staffing procedures and strict guidelines restricting visitors at state-operated long-term care facilities and is also working closely with private nursing home and assisted living associations on the adoption of similar guidelines.

Anyone experiencing symptoms should stay home, call their doctor and plan a safe visit for examination. The general public is encouraged to take social distancing practices, including avoiding events of more than 250 people, working from home if possible and maintaining social distance (6 feet) from anyone experiencing symptoms.

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Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 720114

Reported Deaths: 12882
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook3042206595
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Will38684563
Lake37299631
Kane31767467
Winnebago18948262
Madison14379255
McHenry14269156
St. Clair13410259
Champaign1079858
Sangamon1015799
Peoria9147133
Kankakee8636103
Rock Island8612135
McLean848954
Tazewell6835104
Macon6517132
Kendall626947
LaSalle6108134
DeKalb499047
Adams473548
Vermilion391551
Boone390733
Whiteside3743115
Williamson361083
Clinton330861
Coles329859
Ogle285037
Knox280766
Grundy277618
Effingham277021
Henry270015
Jackson268536
Marion248551
Stephenson246635
Randolph226826
Livingston224527
Macoupin223218
Morgan220936
Bureau211643
Monroe207545
Franklin204825
Lee201034
Christian189443
Jefferson187859
Woodford175827
Fayette170931
Logan170113
Iroquois169326
McDonough158241
Fulton146012
Shelby137426
Douglas135416
Jersey127224
Union118228
Montgomery115519
Crawford112213
Saline111625
Perry110223
Warren109020
Jo Daviess107617
Carroll107024
Lawrence107011
Bond104810
Pike101427
Cass96423
Hancock95612
Wayne90833
Moultrie89810
Clay84020
Greene82831
Edgar80815
Clark79820
Piatt7835
Richland78019
Ford75222
Mercer74510
Mason72120
Johnson7136
Washington7002
Jasper64411
Cumberland61416
White6148
De Witt61317
Massac5993
Wabash5708
Menard4661
Pulaski4132
Marshall4066
Hamilton3873
Brown3224
Henderson2891
Schuyler2711
Stark2683
Alexander2562
Calhoun2470
Putnam2430
Scott2310
Edwards2263
Gallatin1913
Unassigned1850
Hardin1551
Pope1011
Out of IL100

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 333312

Reported Deaths: 5685
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion45371865
Lake28722469
Allen19325304
Elkhart17945235
St. Joseph17599237
Hamilton14061171
Vanderburgh10280127
Tippecanoe920230
Porter873389
Johnson6973170
Hendricks6674158
Vigo637392
Monroe560850
Madison5410122
Clark540478
Delaware5184103
LaPorte492897
Kosciusko480741
Howard379478
Bartholomew347365
Warrick343073
Wayne340985
Floyd334978
Marshall317946
Cass307931
Grant295450
Hancock286957
Noble269347
Henry262837
Boone261955
Dubois249632
Dearborn238231
Jackson235534
Morgan228743
Gibson201229
Shelby199859
Knox196621
DeKalb190234
Clinton189222
Lawrence187949
Wabash181122
Miami176817
Adams176223
Daviess165845
Fayette157634
Steuben156415
Jasper155913
Montgomery154629
Harrison154124
Ripley151521
LaGrange150631
Whitley146815
Huntington140210
Decatur137144
Putnam134828
White134823
Wells134630
Clay132724
Randolph132622
Jefferson131316
Posey127718
Scott118921
Greene109053
Sullivan105016
Jay104414
Jennings97814
Starke96624
Spencer9078
Fulton88619
Perry86421
Fountain8608
Washington8387
Franklin75727
Carroll73713
Orange71828
Vermillion6867
Owen6598
Tipton62727
Parke6226
Rush5918
Newton58812
Blackford57312
Pike54020
Pulaski44215
Benton3843
Martin3826
Brown3705
Crawford3221
Union2862
Switzerland2725
Warren2653
Ohio2437
Unassigned0267