Midwestern universities announce plans to restore in-person learning this fall, return normalcy to campuses
A pedestrian walks across DePaul University’s campus.Tim Boyle/Sun-Times
Colleges and universities around the midwest are predicting the campus experience will be closer to normal this fall, with reopened residence halls, increased student activities and even face-to-face instruction for most classes after a year of largely remote learning.
DePaul University says it plans to offer a “full complement of in-person courses” after adopting a hybrid approach of mainly remote classes over the last several months to mitigate the spread of the virus. Nearby Marquette University in Milwaukee says it is planning a “return to a vast majority of classes meeting in-person.” Butler University, which attracts many Illinois students to Indianapolis, told prospective students this week its goal is “to fully restore the on-campus experience for students, faculty, and staff in summer and fall 2021.”
The University of Illinois-Chicago also expects to have students back on campus for in-person learning. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Northwestern University and Loyola University of Chicago could follow suit, though they have yet to announce their tentative plans.
Those schools are among hundreds of universities nationwide making the call to more fully reopen campuses this fall, giving students better on-hands learning experiences while also providing much-needed financial relief for the institutions as college enrollment has plummeted over the last year.
Read Madeline Kenney’s full story here.
8:29 a.m. Army deploying 200 soldiers to support United Center vaccination site
Former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates once referred to the Army’s 101st Airborne Division as “the tip of the spear” in Afghanistan.
But starting Friday, 200 soldiers from the light infantry division known commonly as the “Screaming Eagles” will be the tip of the syringe in Chicago’s fight against COVID-19.
The troops are being deployed to support the mass vaccination site at the United Center that’s expected to start administering shots Tuesday, according to a news release from the 101st Airborne Division. The soldiers, who are assigned to the 426th Brigade Support Batallion’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, are part of the U.S. Department of Defense’s COVID-19 response operation.
“The 101st has a long history of answering our nation’s call, which at times has been to support civil authority here within the U.S.,” said Lt. Col. Derek Di Bello, battalion commander. “It is a mission we will take on with the same focus and energy that we would any task given to us.”
The reinforcements were requested by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is managing the vaccination site with help from the Defense Department and state and local officials. The soldiers join 139 others already assisting the federal vaccination in Orlando, Florida.
Read Tom Schuba’s full story here.
- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,740 new cases of the disease were diagnosed among 73,990 tests Wednesday, keeping the average statewide positivity rate at an eight-month low of 2.4%. Chicago’s regional rate is at 2.9%, its lowest point since the virus emerged.
- And COVID-19 hospitalizations are lower than they ever got last summer, with 1,200 beds occupied as of Wednesday night.
- But officials reported 42 more viral deaths, including that of a Will County woman in her 30s. The virus is still claiming an average of 38 Illinois lives per day, down from a rate of 54 daily fatalities in early February.
- Illinois’ coronavirus death toll is up to 20,668, among nearly 1.2 million people confirmed to carry the virus over the past year.
Analysis and commentary
7:44 a.m. ‘Life goes on even without the people you care about’ and other reflections on a year unlike any other
I think about the many families I have written about in the past year who paid the ultimate price during the pandemic: losing a loved one. In hopes of finding some wisdom gained from their experience, I checked back with some of those families over the past few days.
Like the relatives of Irvin Kaage Jr. and his wife Muriel Kaage, whose family-operated newsstand is an Edison Park landmark. Like many COVID-19 victims, they were elderly. He was 92. She was 90. At the time they fell ill, both lived at an assisted-living facility in Park Ridge.
What made their deaths resonate was their enduring love story that began on a bus ride downtown and ended with them dying within 36 hours of each other in April, just two months after their 70th anniversary. Even at the end, “They couldn’t be apart,” their son Irv Kaage III said then.
Muriel and Irv Kaage Jr. at his 90th birthday party. They died in quarantine at an assisted-living facility, deprived of face-to-face contact with their children and grandchildren.Provided
Close to a year later, Kaage choked up all over again talking about his parents’ funeral procession, when neighbors lined the 7300 block of North Olcott Avenue, where the Kaages had long lived, paying their respects even though many did not know the couple.
The son said that, until then, the Kaage family worried their popular parents “weren’t going to get their due” because of the COVID restrictions that limited funerals to immediate family. But an outpouring of affection from the community filled the void.
Until we experience it ourselves, some assume the death of a parent who has lived a long, good life somehow is easier to accept. Maybe. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Kaage said his sister Patricia, who used to talk with her mother several times a day, reminisces about her. “She’ll say, ‘I miss them so much,’” Kaage said.
As he looks back at their deaths, Kaage believes the cruelest aspect of the pandemic is that it isolated people like his parents right in their hour of greatest need, at a time all they wanted was to see their loved ones.
Quarantined in their assisted-living facility, the Kaages were deprived of face-to-face contact with their children and grandchildren. “They couldn’t understand it,” their son said.
“When you’re older like that, you realize that what’s most important in your life is your family,” he said. “The elderly were deprived of that.”
Read Mark Brown’s full column, which includes more interviews with families that have lost loved ones during the pandemic, here.
Source by chicago.suntimes.com