Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) officials reported 1,842 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 62 more deaths in the state April 17, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois to 27,575 with 1,134 deaths.
During Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s press conference, Dr. Ngozi Ezike of IDPH said Illinois residents should continue maintaining social distance, wash hands frequently and wear masks. She also stressed that testing facilities are available in the state.
Pritzker also said schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic year. He pledged that the state will work with schools that are facing unique challenges in continuing education online. He said he would also sign an executive order to modify licensing requirements for new educators such as student-teachers.
Pritzker said the federal CARES Act has provided Illinois with $569 million for K-12 schools in response to COVID-19. The money will be used to increase internet and technology access for students, support instructors and provide meals for children and communities, he said, and the funds will be allocated to public schools based on the proportion of low-income students that they serve.
“My office and the Illinois State Board of Education is recommending that any grades given during this pandemic reflect the unprecedented circumstances in which students are attempting to continue their studies,” Pritzker said. “That is, grades should deliver feedback and should not be used as a tool for compliance.”
The state has also released a list of free WiFi hotspots to facilitate e-learning, according to the State of Illinois website. The hotspots have been placed in strategic locations to help students who don’t have access to the internet.