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Local School districts challenge students to succeed with remote learning

Economic disparities play role in education during pandemic

From keeping students engaged during online learning to concerns about them slipping academically and making sure they show up for all remote classes, there are a host of potential pitfalls that can occur when students are not physically in school.

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School districts receive millions to assist with fall reopening

School districts throughout Will County and beyond have received millions of dollars in federal funds for economic relief from the COVID pandemic. That funding is part of the American Rescue Plan approved by congress and signed by President Joe Biden. Nationwide, K-12 schools received more than $122 billion in funding to assist in reopening schools safely this fall and another $10 billion to cover the cost of screening testing for reopening. Illinois State Board of Education has allocated $512 million from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund directly to Illinois school districts to support their local response to the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for the challenges of the upcoming school year. School districts receive reimbursement on a rolling basis upon their submission of expenditure reports. ISBE will direct the remaining ESSER funds in the following seven categories: $33.3 million for laptops and tablets; $7.1 million for internet connectivity; $6.5 million for virtual coaching in support of an estimated 4,000 new teachers who will be entering the teaching profession this fall; $6.5 million for professional development; $2.8 million for state administration; and $685,000 for entities that are not eligible for the direct funds due to ineligibility for the federal Title I program.

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Area employers in desperate need of workers

For those entering or re-entering the job market right now, there are many choices throughout the country and locally too. In the last 30 days, more than 20,000 jobs have been posted to online job boards for the Will County area alone, according to employment officials. These posting represent 600 different occupations. The demand occupations include transportation, warehousing, retail, restaurant and health care, officials said. “Companies, especially in the hospitality sector (retail, restaurants, casinos, etc.) have been posting more jobs to ramp up their workforce as capacity levels increase,” said Caroline Portlock, director of the Workforce Investment Board of Will County.

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Former First Lady Michelle Obama encourages everyone to get COVID vaccine

Will County is sixth most vaccinated in the state

The Will County Health Department on Monday reported 73,426 COVID cases, an increase of 480 from Friday and 979 reported deaths from the virus, an increase of three from Friday.

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Legislators scramble to prevent massive evictions as moratorium ends

Pritzker Administration provides more than $185 million in assistance to help tenants avoid eviction

Legislators in Washington and in Illinois scrambled over the weekend to prevent millions of people from being evicted as a federal eviction moratorium expired Saturday.

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Virtual townhall meeting planned on probe into Joliet PD

AG Raoul to host public discussion Thursday evening

A state investigation is underway into possible patterns or practices of unconstitutional or unlawful policing in Joliet and now the public is being asked to weigh in on the matter. Attorney General Kwame Raoul is inviting members of the public to participate in a virtual town hall meeting discussing the investigation into the Joliet Police Department’s policing practices.

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Will County Health Department reports 464 new COVID cases

Health officials continue to await FDA vaccine approval

As the country awaits the release of COVID vaccine distribution to get underway, Coronavirus cases continue to rise. The Will County Health Department on Wednesday reported 44,464 COVID cases, an increase of 464 from Tuesday, and seven additional deaths, bringing that total to 601.

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Protection assistance for people facing eviction

Illinois scrambled over the weekend to prevent millions of people from being evicted as a federal eviction moratorium expired Saturday. In Illinois, Gov. JB Pritzker has extended the moratorium until the end of August and that is giving renters a bit more time. Mike Petry, a landlord who owns both rental and retail properties in Joliet, told The Times Weekly, evictions have not been a real problem with his tenants during the pandemic. “I’m not filing on anybody,” he said. Petry has one tenant who pays market rate for a unit in one of his buildings in downtown Joliet who applied for rental assistant with the State of Illinois and the state is “processing his request.” He also has about nine tenants who rent at his Louis Joliet property where he has 60 Section 8/HUD/Income limitation units. Only about nine of those tenants have sought rental assistance through the state and about six of them have already received those funds, according to Petry, who has been a landlord in Joliet for the past 18 years. “I really don’t think there are that many landlords who are not getting their money,” Petry said. However, according to according to Kathy Hoffmeyer, Public Affairs Specialist with the Will County Sheriff’s Department, the agency responsible for issuing evictions said, other landlords in Will County are seeking evictions.

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Illinois daycare workers mandated to get COVID vaccines

Republican women lawmakers issue statement crying foul

UPDATED STORY Daycare workers in Illinois will soon face mandatory COVID vaccines or weekly COVID testing if not fully vaccinated by early January 2022. There are 175 daycare facilities in Will County, according to countyoffice.org. To prevent further spread of COVID-19 and to protect the health and safety of Illinois’ youngest residents, Gov. JB Pritzker joined Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Department of Human Services Secretary Grace Hou, and Department of Childhood and Family Services Director Marc Smith Friday to announce new vaccination or weekly testing requirements for individuals who work in licensed day care centers.

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Technology the silver lining for schools during the pandemic

Throughout the nation and here at home, school districts had to turn to the virtual world to bring classrooms to students during the COVID pandemic that raged on for more than 15 months. That meant students had to log in to computers and iPads from home to receive lessons from their teachers. It took some time to get the technology working properly for most school districts and some did not do so well. Much of the success was tied to how advanced each district was technologically and, unfortunately, whether the students could afford the technology, which involved internet access and a device.

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Joliet ZBA votes 5-2 in favor of special use, variation for NorthPoint

City Council to consider development plans Dec. 15

Despite a legal challenge, a public hearing regarding the proposed annexation and rezoning for the NorthPoint development proposed for Joliet went on as planned late last week. Now, comes the next steps.

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Lifeline helping communities thrive

Many families in communities throughout Joliet and Will County have been struggling as a result of the ongoing health crisis. The Coronavirus pandemic has upended the local economy and in the poorest areas of the county – many who were living check to check to begin with – are finding themselves in need of assistance.

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Challenges and wins in Joliet City Address

From dealing with a major health pandemic to a summer of civil unrest to choosing how Joliet will deliver Lake Michigan water to its residents in the future, Joliet city officials had plenty to deal with this past year. “Obviously, being at the helm of city government, it was a challenging and difficult year,” Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said as part of his annual State of the City Address held on Monday. The Address was initially scheduled for Feb. 23 but was postponed after O’Dekirk slipped on the ice and injured his leg. He was still using a crutch during Monday’s Address.

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Local Crest Hill couple charged for breaching Capitol

Joliet Rainbow PUSH president gets candid about charges

A Crest Hill couple appeared before a U.S. District Court judge on Monday after being arrested on charges connected to breaching the Capitol building during the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021. John Schubert Jr., 71, and his wife, Amy Schubert, 61, were charged separately with restricted and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. According to court documents, they knowingly entered or remained in a restricted building and grounds without lawful authority and were further charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Both were charged with two misdemeanor counts of trespassing and disorderly conduct, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Fitzpatrick. The couple was charged after the FBI received an anonymous tip submitted in early March about a video posted on YouTube that included footage of people in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. One of the individuals seen on the video was a woman, later identified as Amy Shubert, who was wearing a black jacket and on the back of the jacket, it read “Plumbers & Pipefitters Union Local Union 422 Joliet IL,” according to court records.

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Joliet moves a step closer to securing the city’s new water source

An important piece of the puzzle moved into place recently to assist Joliet in getting Lake Michigan Water. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) issued an order granting the City of Joliet a Lake Michigan Water Allocation Permit. This permit allows Joliet to begin using Lake Michigan water as its source of supply in 2030 and establishes annual allocation amounts through the year 2050. Receipt of the Allocation Permit is a major milestone in Joliet’s Alternative Water Source Program created to provide a sustainable, reliable, and high-quality water supply for the community by 2030.

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Electric vehicle manufacturer signals bright job future for area

Over $100 million in salaries projected

A huge economic boon hit Joliet and the state late last week with national news for the City of Champions. In a move aligned with President Joe Biden’s plan to increase clean energy, Gov. JB Pritzker on Friday joined elected officials and the Lion Electric Company — a Canadian based manufacturer of all-electric medium and heavy-duty urban vehicles — to announce a significant investment in Illinois, with plans to build the company’s first-ever U.S. manufacturing facility and the largest plant of its kind in the country. The plant will be built in Joliet.

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Moratorium on evictions ends in Illinois

Pritzker announces another $443 million in rental assistance to slow the possible wave of evictions

The eviction moratorium, which ended last month in most states throughout the country, ended Oct. 3 in Illinois. Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) on Friday announced that more than $443 million in emergency rental assistance has been paid on behalf of 49,100 households through the Illinois Rental Payment Program (ILRPP).

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Legislators rush to protect people from evictions

Legislators in Washington and in Illinois scrambled over the weekend to prevent millions of people from being evicted as a federal eviction moratorium expired Saturday. In Illinois, Gov. JB Pritzker has extended the moratorium until the end of August and that is giving renters a bit more time.

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More schools opening for student in-person learning

More area school districts are bringing students back into the classrooms, a sign that the spread of the Coronavirus maybe starting to slow. It is too early to tell whether the rollout of the vaccine has anything to do with more schools re-opening as teachers and staff is just now starting to receive doses of the vaccine. Still Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202 students began returning to in-person learning on Jan. 25 and more in-person learning will continue through Feb. 16, according to district officials. Supt. of Schools Lane Abrell recently updated the Board of Education on the plan to bring students back to classes in small groups as long as health and safety conditions allow. “As we have said many times this year, we all want our kids back in school,” Abrell said. “But we must remember that this is a community health issue, and we must consider the impact that a large school district has on the rest of the community. We are trying to balance that fact with the fact that in-person learning is the best for most if not all, of our students.

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Joliet rejects possibility of cannabis dispensaries in residential areas

Residents balk at proposal to revise ordinance

When it came to the future placement of any marijuana dispensaries near a residential neighborhood in Joliet, some residents spoke, and the council heard them loud and clear. The Joliet City Council on Tuesday voted 6-2 against a proposal to reduce the setback of and adult use cannabis shop from 250 feet to 100 feet. The initial proposal was to reduce it down to 50 feet. Kathy Spieler, of the Reedwood Neighborhood Association, told the council she came to Tuesday’s meeting to say, “50 feet is too close to our kids.” Spieler expressed concern the proposed ordinance would allow cannabis dispensaries too close to pre-schools, daycare center, schools and parks and other places where children would be nearby.