Summer break

Tuesday, June 22, was the last day of school for Chicago Public School (CPS) students after less than a semester of in-person learning during an unprecedented pandemic school year. CPS graduates were finally able to walk the stage and families were allowed to attend graduation ceremonies and hug their kids. Students are scheduled to return to school earlier than usual, on August 30, for the first time in years to make up for “learning loss” during COVID-19 and to have more time to prepare for standardized tests. Local School Councils (LSCs), however, are meeting virtually for the next few weeks to vote on whether to retain or remove their school police officers. CPS officials are also deciding what to do with $1.79 billion in federal relief funds and are considering public input via virtual town halls. Last but not least, a bill for an elected school board is currently on the governor’s desk against Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s will. Check for updates.


Chicago Tribune gutted

The New York-based hedge fund that seized control of Tribune Publishing last month, Alden Global Capital, is already parasitizing the Tribune for as much quick profit as it can, shedding decades of legacy journalism experience in the process. In a second round of layoffs, one-fourth of remaining longtime columnists and veteran reporters have accepted buyouts and are penning heartfelt farewells to readers. The newspaper, founded in 1847, is the industry standard of “objective journalism” and achieved feats such as publishing the entire transcripts of the Watergate tapes in 1974, winning eleven Pulitzer prizes in the 1980s and 1990s, and winning five more even as its newsroom shrank in the 2000s. What Chicago’s media landscape will look like in the wake of Alden’s avarice is debatable, but gutting the Tribune will leave a lacuna that other outlets will be hard pressed to fill.


COVID funeral assistance

A FEMA program is reimbursing tens of thousands of grieving families for funeral expenses of loved ones who died of COVID-19. People who took on these costs may apply to receive up to $9,000 per funeral and a max of $35,500 in the case of multiple deaths in a family. Undocumented immigrants are not eligible to apply for the funds despite high mortality rates in this community, though there are no immigration requirements for the deceased indicated in the application. Applicants must show a death certificate that indicates the cause of death was attributed to COVID, as well as show receipts of the expenses incurred. Funeral homes may be able to provide the paperwork. To apply, call (844) 684-6333 Monday through Friday, deadline TBA.

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