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Illinois schools to remain closed for rest of school year; state sees highest daily spike in COVID-19 cases

Illinois suffers highest spike in COVID-19 cases in 1 day

By Sarah Schulte and Liz Nagy, ABC7 News

Illinois schools will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year, Gov. JB Pritzker announced Friday at his daily coronavirus briefing.

Gov. Pritzker said all in-person learning will be suspended for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year, as part of an effort to limit COVID-19 spread.

It’s a decision most teachers, parents and students considered inevitable as the pandemic has paralyzed any sense of normalcy.

“This was not a decision I made lightly,” Gov. Pritzker said Friday. “The shutting of in-person classroom time also risks a drop in instructional time. These challenges weighed heavily on me.”

Chicago Public Schools only officially began remote learning just days ago as the city scrambled to distribute technology and re-work curriculum.

The school suspension comes Illinois health officials announced 1,842 new coronavirus cases and 62 additional deaths Friday. The jump raises Illinois’ case total to 27,575, including 1,134 deaths.

It’s the single largest increase in cases in one day.

“We do expect cases to rise,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said.

For low-income and rural communities, learning at home can present many difficulties.

“Many families also do not have sufficient access to computers or internet at home,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen Ayala.

Stacy Davis Gates, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union, offered a recommendation Friday.

“There are hotels downtown that are empty. We would make a demand that those students and families housed in those hotels and they have access to wireless that they be given devices immediately,” she said.

Many students are coming to terms with the news that there will be no proms, no formal graduations and no real school goodbyes.

“You’re going to see what it looks like when the world comes together,” Gov. Pritzker said. “What it looks like to put your faith in science and research, and the teams of people here in Illinois and beyond. We’re working on treatments and vaccines to save lives.”

Indiana announced earlier this month that its schools would remain closed for the rest of the academic year as well.

This article originally appeared on ABC7 News.

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