Governor Pritzker cancels K-12 school in Illinois
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announces all public and private schools will be closed starting March 17th until March 30th to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Students on a free or reduced lunch will still be getting two meals a day. They'll be able to get their meals through options like a pickup.
During Pritzker's announcement, they said at least one staff member will be at a school to ensure students have a place to go in case their families are homeless or have no other place to go.
Pritzker said Illinois is the eighth state to cancel school over coronavirus concerns and 280,000 students have been out of schools because school districts decided to cancel.
State officials also confirmed 14 new coronavirus cases in Illinois. Thirteen of those cases are in Cook County and one is in Lake County, according to officials.
Statement from Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery:
“We support Governor Pritzker’s decision to close Illinois schools to prevent further spread of COVID-19. This is an historic and difficult decision, but it is the responsible action to ensure the health of our students, faculty, staff, and communities.
“Teachers are creating learning opportunities to keep children engaged and minimize any learning loss, but COVID-19 has revealed deeper issues that need to be addressed. The austerity budgeting of the last years is coming home to roost and now we are paying a public health price. We must learn from this. About how to better protect our teachers, staff, and students by providing paid sick leave and a nurse at every school – which is a public health issue, not just a moral one. Bridging the digital divide so that e-learning can be fully incorporated at all our schools has to be another top priority.
“The IFT will continue to monitor the situation and work with the governor’s office and help locals work with their schools’ districts to support students in every way.”
Statement from Illinois Education Association President Kathi Griffin:
“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we applaud the Governor for taking action to keep our students, our schools and our communities safe. Thank you for hearing our voices and recognizing our concerns. We especially appreciate efforts to make sure students will continue to receive two meals each day and that funding will not be interrupted. We realize closing schools across the state is a decision that comes with enormous responsibility. There is no replacement for the one-to-one connection between our educators and our students, but health and safety take precedence. We will get through this. We must continue to stand together.”
Bob Kelly has a daughter in the Rock Island school system. With all the events and universities canceled, he said he saw it coming. "I think we were expecting it and we're trying to stay optimistic. This is an opportunity to teach our kids how do you handle yourselves during adversity," Kelly said. "I think this is just an unprecedented event and an unprecedented moment so I think it's our responsibility to stay calm, show our children good leadership through this and assure them that we love them and make sure that they feel comfortable and safe."