Thank you, Martha!
Martha Bayne joined the Weekly as its managing editor at the beginning of 2020—just in time to take on one of the most challenging years of news coverage we have ever experienced. Having previously worked at the Reader and the Tribune, Martha brought deep editing experience to the Weekly. Her guidance has been invaluable to our ability to cover COVID-19, the 2020 rebellions, and many other difficult topics. She managed our newsroom with patience, acumen, and empathy, and in doing so she taught us how to be better journalists. Now, Martha is moving on to a well-deserved position as a senior acquisitions editor at the University of Illinois Press. Congratulations, Martha, we’ll miss you.
COVID in CPS update
At least one parent at Jensen Elementary in Lawndale has died from COVID-19, which her family said she contracted after her fifth-grader was sent home because of exposure to the virus. According to CPS data, between August 29 and October 10 there were 1,366 reported COVID-19 cases among students and 368 among adults across the district. CPS and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) now require “close contacts” to quarantine for ten days unless they are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic.
CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady announced the change from what had been a fourteen-day quarantine at a press conference on October 5, citing a low case rate in CPS and noting that no children have died from COVID-19 in Chicago since school started. As of October 10, there were 5,438 students and 261 adults in quarantine or isolation. She also noted that 0.48 percent of staff and students have had a positive COVID-19 test and were present in a CPS facility when they could have been infectious.
The Chicago Teachers Union passed a resolution last week calling for actions to pressure Mayor Lightfoot to concede to a safety agreement that would mandate weekly testing for staff and students whose parents don’t opt out. CPS’s deadline for all employees to be fully vaccinated is October 15; according to CPS data, 78.2 percent of CPS employees were fully vaccinated as of October 4.
The Art Institute organizes
Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) and School of Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) employees have been protesting to create a union due to what they call unfair working conditions. Since the start of the pandemic, around 200 employees of AIC and SAIC have been either furloughed or laid off entirely. The remaining employees say they have had to take on additional tasks to make up for job cuts, in-person and without hazard pay. In September, employees were joined by students, museum goers, and other community members to protest for workers rights. Employees are still organizing but say they face pushback from AIC and SAIC leadership.
Evictions, your rights, and aid
The Illinois eviction moratorium expired on October 3, leaving an estimated 30,000 renters in the City of Chicago vulnerable to eviction. Housing organizations and the City are imploring tenants not to self-evict. If you are issued an eviction notice by your landlord, there is still due process in court, and only the Sheriff’s Office can legally carry out an eviction. In the meantime, there are resources available, including legal aid and cash assistance for tenants.
Chicago-specific rental assistance: rentrelief.com/allchicago/
Cook County rental assistance: cookcountyil.gov/rent-help
Illinois rental assistance: bit.ly/ILRentAssist
Rentervention, a legal-aid bot that can answer questions, draft letters, and explain your rights: rentervention.com