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News Around Illinois – Aug. 7, 2020

The latest news around the state, for Aug. 7, 2020.

City Colleges Of Chicago Faculty And Staff Threaten Strike Over COVID-19 Safety Concerns

Faculty and staff at City Colleges of Chicago are threatening to strike after accusing the administration of failing to ensure a safe work environment for employees required to return in-person during the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaders of the unions representing faculty, clerical staff and adult educators allege the reopening plans at each of the seven colleges in the community college system are insufficient and have not been implemented well. Staff from multiple colleges said at a press conference Thursday that since the schools reopened Monday there hasn’t been routine sanitization, little to no mask enforcement or proper social distancing guidelines. On Tuesday, staff were also alerted a security officer at Olive Harvey College on the Far South Side tested positive for COVID-19. He was last on campus on July 29. The unions are demanding clerical and student services employees return to remote work as they have done since the beginning of pandemic. They also want the Chicago City Council’s education committee to hold hearings on the community college reopening plans, which City Colleges released last month. – Kate McGee, WBEZ

Springfield Names May 31 BLM Solidarity Day, Requires Anti-Racism Training For Employees

The Springfield City Council approved an anti-racism, anti-violence and anti-hatred resolution Wednesday night that would name May 31 as BLM Solidarity Day in honor of the recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations. The resolution also requires anti-racism and cultural competency training for all city staff, commissioners and contractors, and encourages investment in wards 2 and 3, changes suggested last week by Ward 3 Ald. Doris Turner. Despite last-minute amendments proposed by Mayor Jim Langfelder and the NAACP, the council voted in favor of the version discussed last week. Eight of 10 city council members had signed on co-sponsors. – Mary Hansen, WUIS

New Food Map Helps Illinoisans Find Nearby Food Sources

The University of Illinois Extension is launching a community food map on its website so people can find nearby food sources. U of I Extension SNAP-Ed Specialist Caitlin Kownacki called it a “one-stop shop.” Kownacki said more than 2 million Illinoisans rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for food and that’s especially true now because of COVID-19. Still, she said, the website is for everyone. By entering your zip code, you will find nearby food pantries, school and summer sites, farmers markets, even roadside farm stands. The site includes educational opportunites and information about transportation. And it quickly guides people to the places that accept SNAP, LINK, WIC and senior food benefits. To find nearby food sources, click here. – Connie Kuntz, WNIJ

Attorney Helps Students Navigate Housing Options After ISU Shifts To Mostly Online

An attorney representing students at Illinois State University said he expects to get plenty of questions about off-campus lease agreements from students now that the university is moving to mostly online instruction this fall. Ed McKibbin is the students’ attorney in the Dean of Students Office. He said his office has been getting calls from students who don’t want to move back to campus now. – Eric Stock, WGLT

Former WEEK-TV Reporter Denise Jackson Running For 1st District Council Seat

Former Peoria TV reporter Denise Jackson is running for the 1st District City Council seat. Jackson announced her candidacy Thursday on Western Avenue. She said South Side residents were once again told to wait this year on a major revitalization project for the once-bustling corridor first–a plan promised six years ago–while road projects on War Memorial Drive and other thoroughfares to the north moved forward. Jackson, the first vice president of Southside Community United for Change, said the city blamed the delay on the COVID-19 pandemic. – Tim Shelly, WCBU

COVID-19 Cases Rising in Downstate Illinois

Cases of COVID-19 are on the rise in Illinois, leading Gov. J.B. Pritzker to say some regions of the state could be facing new restrictions on bars and restaurants. That could mean a rolling back of the state allowing indoor dining. Pritzker pointed to a pair new statewide COVID-19 infection trends: the largest number of new cases are occurring in young people, especially those in their twenties, and among people located downstate. His concerns were echoed by state Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, who says the number of cases statewide is trending upward, and positivity rates have increased throughout the state. The numbers still aren’t as high as they were in April and May. But Ezike says wearing masks and keeping a distance from others would help reduce the trend. – Maureen Foertsch McKinney, WUIS

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