CHICAGO - Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has extended the closure of Chicago Public Schools through April 20. Students will return to class April 21.
The mayor made the announcement Thursday in an address to the city.
“I know these restrictions are causing hardships, but we are doing this to save lives, pure and simple,” she said.
Lightfoot said restricting the movement of patients and people with symptoms of COVID-19 “is the best way to prevent the virus from spreading further.”
“This move may seem severe to some but in this highly evolving situation it’s absolutely what we need to do at this time as we work to contain this outbreak,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the health department.
The health department said symptoms of the acute respiratory disease include fever, cough, shortness of breath, nasal or lung congestion, sore throat, body aches or unusual fatigue.
"Extending our school closures is a difficult but necessary decision to ensure the health and safety of our students, staff, families and entire city during the COVID-19 health emergency," Mayor Lightfoot said in a statement. "While our students remain at home, City officials and support teams will continue to work around the clock to ensure our young people get the food and other resources they need until classes resume."
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“We know that the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities is to reduce social contact,” Dr. Arwady said in a statement. “The measures that Mayor Lightfoot and Dr. Jackson are putting in place for schools help us with that goal. We appreciate their commitment to doing what’s necessary to save lives.”
“The continued closure of our city’s great schools poses an unprecedented challenge for our families, and we are committed to doing everything in our power to support them,” CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson said in a statement. “Canceling school is always a last resort, but this decision is necessary to promote the wellbeing of our community, and we will do everything in our power to lift up our families in the days ahead.”
All CPS families and staff are being alerted to the district-wide closure via e-mail and robocall, and CPS will continue to work with citywide leadership to coordinate resources for students across schools. Information for families is available at cps.edu/coronavirus and families with questions can call the CPS command center at 773-553-KIDS (5437) or email email@example.com.
Illinois officials announced earlier Thursday that three more people have died from COVID-19 in the state and the total number of infected cases has risen to 422.
Free Meals for CPS Families
Since the first day of the closure, CPS schools have been providing take-home meals for families outside of schools throughout the city. Over 90,000 packages with three days worth of food for each child have been provided since Tuesday, March 17, and the district remains committed to offering families free meal packages for every child in a household throughout the closure. Thanks to the incredibly dedicated staff who are supporting this effort in CPS schools, food can be picked up between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. every weekday during the closure.
For most people, the 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 virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild cases recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe ones can take three to six weeks to get better.