Latest coronavirus news for March 26, 2020: Live updates


CPS is buying new computers for students to use at home as e-learning continues during coronavirus shutdown

Fourth grade students work on computers at Roswell B. Mason Elementary School on the South Side after a Chicago Teachers Union strike closed schools for 11 days, Friday morning, Nov. 1, 2019. File photo.

Fourth grade students work on computers at Roswell B. Mason Elementary School on the South Side after a Chicago Teachers Union strike closed schools for 11 days, Friday morning, Nov. 1, 2019. File photo.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Chicago Public Schools officials said Wednesday they’re planning to buy new computers for students and are on the verge of releasing a more comprehensive remote learning plan as they continue preparing for extended school closures.

Up to this point, the district’s 640 schools have continued teaching in vastly different ways, though the majority are providing enrichment assignments instead of forging ahead with normal instruction.

Schools chief Janice Jackson has said the infrastructure doesn’t exist for a widespread e-learning plan to apply at all schools, mainly because of technology deficiencies such as a lack of computer or internet access among students.

But figuring out a way to ramp up e-learning is becoming increasingly important as the district’s 350,000 students, who have already been out of school more than a week, appear to be headed for a lengthy stay at home. Though CPS is currently set to stay closed until April 21, and Gov. J.B. Pritzker has mandated all state schools closed through at least April 7, several other states have already canceled the rest of their school year.

CPS will pay for the new devices using some of the $75 million that the school board approved Wednesday for the district’s coronavirus emergency response through at least the end of June.

Read the full story from education reporter Nader Issa.


6:01 a.m. Senate passes coronavirus rescue package on unanimous vote

The Senate late Wednesday passed an unparalleled $2.2 trillion economic rescue package steering aid to businesses, workers and health care systems engulfed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The unanimous vote came despite misgivings on both sides about whether it goes too far or not far enough and capped days of difficult negotiations as Washington confronted a national challenge unlike it has ever faced.

The 880-page measure is the largest economic relief bill in U.S. history. It is intended as relief for an economy spiraling into recession or worse and a nation facing a grim toll from an infection that’s killed nearly 20,000 people worldwide.

Read the full story here.


New cases


6:36 a.m. Please, now more than ever, keep the lakefront and parks ‘forever open, clear and free’

I get it. I get it. I get it.

There’s a lot of stupid people out there. There always are, and most of them don’t mean any harm. They just don’t seem to understand.

I understood completely Tuesday evening when two Chicago Police Department squad cars rolled through the park and broke up a large pickup soccer match.

I understand why the mayor is aggravated seeing groups gathered along the lakefront paths.

Let’s just hope that we can find a way to deal with this short of shutting down the best places most people have for letting off steam. Let’s try like heck to keep the parks open.

Read Mark Brown’s column here.