Chicago’s largest charter network, as well as a Southwest Side magnet elementary school, will both close on Monday after a person at each tested positive for the new coronavirus.
The Noble charter network, which educates over 12,000 children in Chicago, will close Monday after a staff member at the Mansueto High School campus in Brighton Park tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
And in an email sent out Sunday night, Chicago Public Schools confirmed that someone at Sheridan Math and Science Academy in Bridgeport tested positive and the school would be closed Monday. The district referred only to a “member” of the academy and did not specify if the person was a teacher, other staffer, or student there.
“We are asking anyone who was in Sheridan on March 9 to stay home effective immediately through Monday, March 23,” the letter to staff and families reads.
That means the school and charter network will close one day ahead of the shutdown of all public and private schools in Illinois, as mandated by Gov. J.B. Pritzker as a means to help control spread of the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease.
Illinois has 93 confirmed cases of coronavirus, health officials said Sunday, a jump of 28 cases from Saturday.
The cases are the second and third cases to be made public that directly connect to Chicago Public Schools. One of the city’s early cases was a special education aide at Vaughn Occupational High School, a school for children with disabilities. The case, which was connected to the Grand Princess cruise ship, prompted a schoolwide closure, the first in the district, on March 9.
From that day until Friday, when the governor announced a statewide shutdown of K-12 schools, Chicago officials had said they wanted to keep schools open. One of the motivations was the large percentage of families who rely on schools for meals and care for their children.
But as schools closed across the nation — 33 states have closed public schools as of Sunday evening — the governor intervened Friday and decreed schools would close beginning Tuesday. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson have since announced a plan to distribute food at every district-run school in the city and on more than 25 charter campuses.
Chicago Public Schools has promised to provide food for students at each of its locations from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., as well as three-day food packages available for each child in a family.
Noble, citing logistical challenges, will provide food service at only seven of its campuses on Monday: Pritzker, Noble Street, Hansberry, DRW, Comer Middle, Baker, and Butler, available to children at all 18 of its schools.
On Sunday, noting grave concern that so many Chicagoans flocked downtown to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day despite officials’ warnings to stay home, Pritzker announced a statewide ban on dine-in service at restaurants and bars starting Monday evening. Patrons can still order delivery or curbside food service.
Perplexed why the governor would close restaurants and bars, but not day care centers, early childhood educators plan to petition the state Monday for an extension of funding and better communication.