Governor Pritzker extends stay-at-home order through April

March 31, 2020

 

Illinois’ current stay-at-home order will be extended through the month of April to help curb the spread of coronavirus.

The proclamation was made by Governor JB Pritzker during his daily #COVID19 briefing on March 31. It adds a month to the original order that he issued on March 20.

“I have let the science guide our decisions and I’ve relied upon the top medical experts, scientists, public health researchers, epidemiologists, mathematicians and modelers, from the greatest institutions in the world whose guidance on infection rates and potential mortalities and protective measures is second to none,” he said. “Illinois has one of the strongest public health systems in the nation — but even so, we aren’t immune to this virus’ ability to push our existing capacity beyond its limit. We need to maintain our course and keep working to flatten the curve.”

The extension also applies to the temporary statewide closure of all K-12 schools that the governor ordered on March 13, two days before he announced a prohibition on in-person dining in restaurants throughout the state.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot — whose efforts to combat the virus include closing the city’s lakefront and launching a plan to house the infected in hotel rooms — acknowledged the hardship of the order while expressing her support for the governor’s actions.

“This may not be the measure that we like, but it is the measure we all need to combat the deadly and growing COVID-19 crisis,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot.”The City of Chicago fully supports Governor Pritzker’s bold and necessary extension of the Stay at Home Order, and stands ready to partner with the State and our health officials as we navigate the challenges that lie ahead in safeguarding our residents. We will get through this crisis together and I want to thank all those who have been doing their part.”

Chicago launches bold plans to curb spread of COVID-19

 

Downtown Chicago’s lakefront and parks closed
When sunny spring weather caused crowds to gather on the lakefront, Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered that the lakefront, beaches, parks and the 606 be closed March 27 for an unspecified time to curb the spread of coronavirus. Chicago police patrolled the area to clear crowds and some areas have been fenced off.

 

Window washing essential
Spring window washing is going ahead as planned in the neighborhood. Window washing crews have been observed by residents at several buildings in New Eastside including 155 N. Harbor Dr. and 201 Westshore Dr. in New Eastside, causing residents to hastily draw their blinds.

 

COVID-19 in New Eastside
In March, cases of COVID-19 rose in New Eastside. Cases COVID-19 have been reported in the Prudential, Aon Center, Aqua and Lancaster buildings. Building managers sent notification of reported cases to tenants and residents via emails.

 

Chicago Park District Programs go online
Chicago Park District is bringing the fun to you. Children’s storytimes, make a baby Yoda art project, and video tips on how to keep your house squeaky clean while burning calories are coming to you online via the Chicago Park District Programs website. Visit chicagoparkdistrict.com/stayingactive for a list of their offerings: from bingo boards for download to virtual meditation and ballet videos.

 

Chicagoans come together in sing-alongs
Throughout the stay-at-home order, Chicagoans have found a way to cheer themselves up. Sing-alongs organized via social media platforms have filled the air with Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” which drew 8,200 virtual attendees and likely more at the actual event on their balconies and at their windows at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 21. The event caught the attention of Jon Bon Jovi himself, who dedicated an Instagram post to the city, “I am with you with all my heart and my soul, sending my love to everybody in Chicago and across America.”

The radio station 97.1 The Drive put together their own sing-along of the National Anthem and Queen’s “We Will Rock You” March 27. A singalong, especially for kids took place, Sunday March 29 at 5p.m. with a chorus of “Let It Go” from the Disney movie “Frozen.”

These events tend to pop up sporadically and at last minute notice. To take part in upcoming singalongs, please follow New Eastside News’ Facebook page, where we will be reposting the events as they are announced. 

 

2020 election wrap-up
Democrats claiming victory after the 2020 Illinois Primary elections include incumbent Sen. Dick Durbin, who will run against Republican challenger Mark Curran in the November general election. Incumbent State’s Attorney Kim Foxx will face Republican challenger Patrick O’Brien. Incumbent Rep. Danny K. Davis will run against Republican Craig Cameron for the Seventh District, which includes New Eastside, Streeterville and the West Loop.

 

New Eastside and Streeterville political races to watch
Unless a challenger emerges, incumbent State Sen. Robert Peters will run unopposed in the race for Senate District 13, which includes Streeterville and everything east of Columbus Dr. in New Eastside. The same holds true for incumbent Kambium Buckner, who won the primary for House District 26. Lamont Robinson ran unopposed and won the primary for State House District 5, which includes everything west of Columbus Dr. in New Eastside, all of River North, and the eastern half of the Loop.

 

City suspends late fees on parking tickets and more
On March 18, Mayor Lightfoot announced that the city has initiated several “hold-harmless policies” to ease the burden caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Effective immediately, Chicago will stop charging late fees on payment plans, utility bills, parking tickets, red-light citations, booting and other violations. “This is a common sense way that we can help mitigate the burdens and pressures many are feeling,” Lightfoot said. “We know that these practices disproportionately impact the residents that are most in need during this crisis.” The policies will remain in effect until April 30.

 

City rents hotel rooms for people with coronavirus
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office said certain people who test positive for coronavirus or are awaiting test results would be housed in hotel rooms rented by the city beginning March 23. The measure will apply to those “who cannot safely return home (but) do not need hospital care.” At the time of the announcement, the city had already reached agreements with local hotels to provide more than 1,000 rooms for those “exposed to or mildly ill with COVID-19.” According to the Chicago Tribune, the program could expand to include up to 4,000 hotel rooms costing nearly $175 per night, and the expense will be covered by “federal funds and other potential sources.”

 

How to give back in the neighborhood
In a recent email newsletter, Alderman Reilly thanked the community for their enquiries into how to give back locally in the time of the coronavirus pandemic. There are many ways to help.

  • CPS teachers or childcare providers are welcome to sign up with Sittercity. Sittercity will match sitters to care for children of first responders and healthcare workers, as both are welcome to access the site for free. Visit sittercity.com for more information.
  • CPS nurses or healthcare providers, including retired healthcare workers and those with out-of-state medical licenses, can sign up for the Illinois Medical Reserve Program. The IMRS is in need of volunteers to help support the healthcare field at this time. For more information, visit illinoishelps.net.
  • The country is also in a blood donation shortage and the Red Cross is asking for more donations. If you are eligible, visit redcross.org.
  • For those who are unable to leave their homes or food insecure, there are several Chicago organizations that could use help and donations. One of which is Greater Chicago Food Depository. They are looking for volunteers ages 18-60 at chicagosfoodbank.org.
  • Please keep in mind if you have exhibited symptoms of the coronavirus or come into contact with someone who has exhibited symptoms or been diagnosed in the last 14 days, you should stay at home and not locally volunteer. For more information visit ward42chicago.com

 

Deals on Divvy
It’s a good time to get a deal on Divvy. To help ease the burden of Illinois’ stay-at-home order, the City of Chicago has arranged a deal to reduce the cost of renting Divvy bikes. The cost of an annual Divvy membership has been reduced 50% — from $99 to $49.50 —The “steeply” discounted memberships are available through April 30, 2020.

Other two-wheeled measures include reducing the regular $3 cost of 30-minute Divvy bike rentals by 66%, which comes out to a dollar for a half hour.

“Chicago is committed to ensuring reliable and accessible transportation for every neighborhood and community,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot in a press release, “We are taking every measure possible to provide the pricing support needed to keep our residents mobile and our city moving forward.” Divvy is also launching a 30-day program to give critical healthcare workers free bikeshare rides.

 

Local grocery stores enact dedicated hours for senior citizens
Seniors, and those with underlying medical conditions, are at the most risk for serious coronavirus complications, according to the CDC. To make essential trips to the grocery store and pharmacy easier for those individuals that are most at-risk, local stores have enacted senior-specific hours.

  • Whole Foods, 255 E. Grand: Those 60 and up can begin shopping at 7a.m., before the store officially opens at 8a.m.
  • Whole Foods, 30 W. Huron: Those 60 and up can begin shopping at 8a.m, before the store officially opens at 9a.m.
  • Target, 401 E. Illinois St.: Each Wednesday, the first hour of shopping is dedicated to seniors and those with underlying health concerns. 7-8a.m.
  • Mariano’s, 333 E. Benton Pl.: 6-8a.m. is reserved for senior citizens and those with underlying health concerns.
  • Jewel-Osco, 550 N. State St., For seniors and those with underlying health concerns, priority will be given on Tuesdays and Thursdays 7-9a.m.
  • Walgreens: 8-9a.m. on Tuesdays is senior shopping hour.

 

CTA, Metra help to ease COVID-19 burden
Starting on March 24, The Chicago Transit Authority offered partial credit to customers who purchased fare cards but were unable to use them due to the coronavirus.

“A one-time credit,” according to a CTA press release, applies to “any remaining days left on an active 7- or 30-day pass.” In other words, a person who purchased a 7-day pass but only used it for one day would be credited with six days of “Transit Value” that would be “added to the cardholder’s Ventra account.”

The CTA also offered reassurance that it will continue operations during the stay-at-home order. Medical personnel also get free rides at this time.

 

McCormick Place transforms into makeshift hospital
Plans are underway to turn McCormick Place into a 3000 bed makeshift hospital to treat coronavirus patients by April 24. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is providing kits help transform several exhibition halls in the facility into a temporary medical site.

 

Northwestern Memorial Hospital restricts visitors
In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 there is a new no-visitor restriction at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. According to the hospital’s website, visitors are not allowed in all in-patient and out-patient care sites with the following expectations:

  • Pediatric patients under the age of 18 (limited to one visitor/companion 18 or older)
  • Neonatal ICU patients (limited to two visitors 18 or older, one at a time)
  • Compassionate care, including pastoral care visits and end-of-life patients (limited to one visitor 18 or older)
  • Laboring mothers (limited to one visitor 18 or older)
  • Patients requiring transportation home after an ED visit or outpatient visit or procedure (limited to one visitor/companion 18 or older)
  • In these exceptional cases patients and visitors will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 or flu before being admitted.

Food Truck Pros share quick and easy recipes for home

By Daniel Patton, March 18, 2020

 

Social distancing has elevated the kitchen to a new level of importance in America. Loosely defined as the practice of staying away from other people to avoid spreading a virus, it is one of the recently issued federal guidelines that are turning private homes into new favorite restaurants throughout Chicago.

To help keep things tasty and efficient, New Eastside News interviewed food truck owners and cooks to learn how the pros make tasty meals on limited supplies.

 

Mario Martinez’ Huevos a la Mexicana

“Everybody has eggs,” says Mario Martinez. “Everybody has onions, tomatoes. You can make Mexican Eggs.”

Mario Martinez

Martinez was born in Mexico City and immigrated to Chicago, where he built Tacos Mario’s, a two-truck restaurant that has been featured on Chicago’s Best for the past two years.

He offered the following recipe while managing one of his vehicles at Clark St. just south of Monroe St.

“It’s sliced onion, sliced tomato, and sliced hot peppers,” he explains. “Fry the vegetables together and, when they are ready, just throw in the eggs and stir it all up. That’s it: huevos a la Mexicana.”

The peppers can be either hot or sweet. “My favorite is Serrano pepper,” says Mario. “It’s tasty. It’s better than the jalapeno. It’s the perfect hot pepper for everything.”

The same fried ingredients can be placed on top of eggs over easy to make huevos rancheros, ideally with a couple fried tortillas underneath it all. 

The authentic versions of both recipes call for cilantro, if it’s available, and they can be spiced up with oregano, chile guajillo molido, paprika, and a dash of vinegar. Mario says mushrooms don’t hurt either.

 

Thomas Brewer’s Roast Chicken

Chicago native Thomas Brewer learned how to cook from watching YouTube at home in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood near 75th and Halsted. He used the skill to launch Whadda Jerk Food Truck — where Jamaican and Mexican cuisine come together in a crunchy taco shell — which can usually be found serving customers across from Northwestern Hospital at 251 E. Huron.

Thomas Brewer

“When I don’t have much stuff,” he says, “I hit the freezer and thaw some chicken thighs or chicken wings, some chicken legs.”

Although his preference is to grill the bird for a couple hours to make it tender, Brewer gave us an oven-friendly version for preparing the meal.

“If I have a whole chicken or hen in the freezer or in the refrigerator, I would season it up with some seasoning salt, pepper, onion garlic, and a little Caribbean spice,” he says. “Dry rub it on, put it in a pot, put butter on top, add a little water, and just let it simmer for about an hour and thirty minutes,” he says.

The chicken should roast at 375 degrees for one to two hours, depending on size. During that time, according to Brewer, “the steam from the water will start tearing that meat apart.”

The best way to serve it is over rice.

“The rice you put a cup in a pot and two cups of water, let it steam until it’s nice and fluffy, maybe about forty minutes,” says Brewer. “I put that at the bottom of the plate, take that chicken out the pot, place it on top, and you have a little feast there.”

 

Jaime Salinas’ Sopas Aguadas

When asked about simple dishes that go a long way, Mexi-Tacos cook Jaime Salinas remembers the sopas aguadas that he enjoyed while growing up in Toluca, Mexico, about 40 miles southwest of Mexico City.

Jaime Salinas

“It’s soup with noodles and a lot of juice, like a lot of chicken broth,” he says. “It’s not that many ingredients, and it’s not difficult to cook as long as you get tomatoes, chicken broth, noodles, vegetables, garlic, and onion.”

Jaime fries the noodles in oil for a few minutes, then adds the onion, garlic, and tomatoes for a few more minutes. When it all begins to simmer, he adds the broth and brings the pot to a boil for a minute, then reduces it back to a simmer.

“In Mexico, we prepare the simple things,” he says. “It’s very good, and you can feed as many people as you want because, with one pot, it lasts a lot.”

 

Mario Martinez, Jr’s Rice and Beans

Chicago native Mario Martinez, Jr. developed a knack for cooking from his father, the founder and owner of award-winning Tacos Mario’s. He recommends recipes that include beans and rice because, among other things, they are “easy to stock and won’t go bad.”

Mario Martinez, Jr.

“For the rice, first I fry it, actually, with oil,” he says. “You fry the rice and the garlic and the onion and then you want to add some chicken broth.” When the rice and chicken broth starts to boil, add the tomatoes, reduce it all to a simmer, and then just “cover it up about fifteen minutes.”

“You can store it in the fridge,” he adds and use it to complement beef, steak, pork, or whatever Type of protein you’ve stocked up on.”

 

Curly Adams’ Ham and Eggs

Curly Adams learned his way around a kitchen by growing up with four brothers in Chicago. “My mom made sure we all know how to cook,” he explains. Today he uses the skill in the Harold’s Chicken Shack food truck, often located on Huron across from Northwestern University Hospital. When it comes to quick and easy meals, he prefers the breakfast route.

Curly Adams and Jessica Jarmon

“Ham and eggs,” he continues. “I have my toast in first. Then I put my ham in the microwave. Then I scramble my eggs. So, ten minutes, breakfast is ready. That’s why you got that microwave.”

As one of seven kids — three boys and four girls — Adams’ coworker Jessica Jarmon not only learned how to make her own food but also to eat it fast. “When we used to be hungry, it used to be crackers, baloney,” she recalls. “Also, we had bread and syrup.”

Her other recommendations for cooking in a pinch include grits, “which is easy,” Oodles of Noodles (a just-add-water brand of ramen noodle), and oatmeal with sugar and butter.

 

Julio Quilez’ Tacos Autenticos

Julio Quilez

Julio Quilez is the manager of Mr. Quiles Mexican Food Truck and a self-taught cook. “I just watch and learn,” he says.

Although the truck’s most popular item is chicken quesadillas, he believes that “the easiest thing to cook” is tacos. “Just stock up on tortillas — corn, the best ones — and get some different Mexican spices. Fry them up, add seasoned meat and, for the authentic way, add onion and cilantro.” 

Pastime postponed: remembering the games that never happened

By Daniel Patton

 

The delay of Major League Baseball’s opening day expands a chapter of American sports that involves U.S. presidents and a future Supreme Court justice. Here’s a brief summary of seasons cut short and games that never happened.

 

Major League Baseball Strike of 1994

A strike launched by MLB players on August 12 prompted officials to suspend the remainder of the season, including the playoffs and the World Series.

The dispute was sparked by a proposal that league owners submitted roughly two months earlier, on June 15. It proposed a salary cap, a revenue sharing agreement, and a restriction on the players’ freedom to accept new jobs.

According to the owners, the changes represented the best way to create equity among the league’s 28 clubs. Specifically, it would give teams from relatively smaller markets like Cleveland the same advantage as teams from gigantic markets like New York.  

Richard Ravitch, the owners’ chief negotiator, said the system would restore economic sanity and competitive balance, according to an LA Times story by Ross Newhan. “There has to be some flexibility because the disparity is so great it can’t be bridged by revenue sharing,” he insisted.

The players didn’t buy it, and on September 14 league officials cancelled the rest of the season.

Winter arrived with no end in sight. Congress introduced bills to restore the game on January 4, the league voted in favor of using replacement players on January 13, and President Clinton ordered the opposing sides to find common ground by February 6.

But the strike continued.

Finally, on March 31, future Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a preliminary injunction against the owners, and the strike ended two days later. The sides would abide by the terms of their previous agreement until a new deal could be reached, and the 1995 season was delayed by three weeks.

 

NFL Players Strike of 1987

The 24-day strike beginning on September 22 forced team owners to cancel three weeks worth of games before provoking them to move forward with replacement players, also known as scabs.

According to Deadspin writer Dom Cosentino, “the players wanted the right to free agency, in addition to better pension benefits, severance, and the elimination of artificial turf.” On the other side, owners wanted to continue business as usual and would take great pains to see it done.

After players refused to take the field on week three and forced all games to be cancelled, the owners started to replace them. They tapped into veterans from the former United States Football League, a professional football organization that had launched in 1983, folded in 1985, and included teams like the New Jersey Generals, which was owned by future US President Donald Trump.

The USFL recruits took the field with a number of “ordinary dudes from all walks of life who were delighted to jump at the opportunity to play NFL football,” according to Cosentino.

ESPN profiled several of the ones who joined the Washington Redskins during this time in Year of the Scab, a 2017 episode of its “30 for 30” series.

 

 

A number of regular players also crossed the picket line, including Mark Gastineau, Randy White, Doug Flutie, Steve Largent, Joe Montana, and Roger Craig.

Their actions weakened the leverage of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), the organization that represented the players, and on October 14, 1987, NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw ordered everyone back to work.

After dismissing most of the players’ demands, the NFL resumed business as usual.

 

The Olympic boycotts of 1980 and 1984

On March 21, 1980, President Jimmy Carter pulled the United States out of the Summer Olympic games that were scheduled to begin four months later in Moscow. He did it to protest the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, which was launched by General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev in 1979.

The decision caused bitterness among athletes that, according to a 1996 New York Times article, lingered for years.

Yet Carter persisted. Enlisting Muhammad Ali to help encourage other nations to stay away from the games, he eventually convinced more than 50 countries to keep their athletes at home.

Nations joining the boycott included Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, Japan, the Philippines, and West Germany. The United Kingdom, France, and Australia let their athletes decide for themselves.

Fans of international basketball, diving, gymnastics, and all kinds of track and field events had to make do with a greatly reduced version of their once-every-four-year fix.

Although the Soviet Union lost an estimated two hundred million dollars in TV deals as a result of the boycott, they remained in Afghanistan for nearly a decade. Four years later, they launched their own boycott of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

With no Soviet Union — which included powerhouses like Russia, East Germany, Romania — the US won 174 medals, including 83 Golds.

The American success was a disaster for McDonald’s.

During the 1984 games, the fast food giant ran an Olympic promotion that awarded US customers free food whenever the country won a medal. It gave away Big Macs for every gold, fries for a silver, and a drink for a bronze.

Created a nearly decade earlier by former Chicago-based marketing agency Frankel & Company, the campaign did extremely well during the 1976 games in Montreal. But when half of the world didn’t show up to play in LA, it reportedly caused nearly 7,000 McDonald’s restaurants to “run short of Big Macs,” according to a 1984 New York Times article.

Mariano’s extra effort keeps customers safe and satisfied

By Daniel Patton

 

Mariano’s is devoting its legendary innovation to a customer wellness effort that goes beyond even today’s new standards for retail excellence. Besides introducing a dozen Safety Protocols, the store will soon begin delivering its signature events straight into shoppers’ homes.

Director of Strategic Brand Development Amanda Puck spent time on a recent afternoon to tell New Eastside News about the plan to keep quality and service at the levels that have helped Mariano’s become a New Eastside favorite.

 

What is Mariano’s doing to ensure the wellness of employees and customers?

Marianoi’s Take and Bake Pizzas

We’ve always taken the safety of our associates and customers very seriously, but in light of the pandemic, we have upped the measures and precautions. We have increased our cleaning schedule. We are coaching employees. We are working with customers and employees to maintain distancing guidelines. We are installing plexiglass barriers at check-out stands and floor decals that say please wait here so customers know where to stand… Every day there’s a new development because no one was obviously prepared for this anywhere. And the protocols may end up being permanent because we don’t know what the new normal is going to be. Mariano’s is very innovative in general as a retailer, and this is pushing us all to really deliver. It’s the way things have to be done.

 

What about your in-store classes events?

We are actually bringing that all online starting in April. We’re going to have wine-tastings, chef classes, and “Live at Mariano’s” with musical talent streaming performances and kids concerts.

 

How has the situation affected Mariano’s daily routine?

Hiring for us is the biggest challenge, because pickup and delivery are more in demand than they’ve ever been before, especially for seniors and people at home. We’re hiring at all stores to increase those operations. We’ve already hired 500 new associates, and we’re looking to hire 500 more. So if anyone’s interested, they can apply online now.

 

How have Mariano’s employees responded to the new safety protocols?

Our associates are the real heroes — well, obviously, in addition to the first responders handling medical emergencies. But the associates are totally ramping it up. They really feel like they are playing their parts in this whole crisis by helping people. Our staff comes in every day, every night, unloading trucks. We are there around the clock. We have overnight teams replenishing stores. The produce comes in very early morning and, by 6 a.m. the whole store is getting stocked. We’ve all had to make decisions and adapt very quickly. I’m lucky we’re such a close team.

 

Mariano’s Sushi

How are the customers dealing with the changes?

The customers have been unbelievably supportive! Of course, they’re concerned about food supply and wondering if they are going to get their groceries, and the answer is yes. But as a community we also have to realize that we can’t be hoarding. Mariano’s places limits on waters, bread, dairy, eggs, sanitizer, and toilet paper. We’re also expecting large shipments of toilet paper soon. This may change all of our lives forever and, in some ways, it’s humbling and gratifying to know that we can deliver what our customers need.

 

What do you intend to do when the stay-at-home order is lifted?

My husband and I miss our restaurant friends and community. We’ve been doing pickup. We just picked up from a place and the manager said I really miss you and come back as soon as you can.

 

In the meantime, what’s your favorite thing to eat from Mariano’s?

I love Mariano’s fried chicken. I think it’s the best. And I love our Poke Bowls, which are made-to-order. We just launched a new salmon teriyaki bowl and it’s healthy, fresh, and delicious.

Virtual classrooms at GEMS help students learn during coronavirus era

By Daniel Patton, April 1, 2020

 

GEMS World Academy temporarily shuttered its New Eastside campus on Friday, March 13, in accordance with Illinois Governor Pritzker’s order to close all of the state’s public and private schools to combat the spread of coronavirus. Classes resumed via online videoconferencing the following Monday.

Since then, GEMS hasn’t missed a beat. The school has been executing its remote learning plan every weekday while keeping pace with the teachers’ original lesson plans, which include lessons, individual work, and community and socializing time.

5th grader Shiven Kammula meeting via Zoom with his class and the school counselor discussing coping strategies

“We kind of sensed this was coming, so we already had this conversation with kids,” recalled Head of School Tom Cangiano. “They were prepared and had all the equipment they needed.”

The equipment includes iPad minis that students received when they were in junior kindergarten and MacBook Pros in fourth grade. The gear makes a fitting complement to the school’s tech-savvy methodology of its young scholars.

GEMS is an International Baccalaureate school that educates a diverse population of students from preschool through grade 12. With a strong focus on innovation, it incorporates emerging technology into the daily routine.

As a result, students made a rather easy transition from classroom to home.

Plugging into online applications like Zoom and Google Meet, they attend class, form breakout groups, learn from guest lecturers, and collaborate on digital versions of the traditional white board. Recently, the fourth graders studied immigration by listening to the personal stories of a Filipino archaeologist from National Geographic Explorer.

According to Director of Innovation Peg Keiner, it’s been more or less school as usual. “We had the infrastructure in place, and teachers were already doing this,” she explained. “We have a program that believes that children can learn everywhere. We just added Zoom.”

Cangiano, who teaches a literature class, said that replicating the dynamic of a group discussion with students “is not as challenging as you think.”

“Teachers are using all kinds of different strategies,” he added. “They might be sharing their screens and embedding videos.”

 

The Field Studies Program

A slightly modified version of the school’s unique Field Studies program also continues to thrive. As part of a commitment to inquiry-based learning, the program has traditionally encouraged students to explore their surroundings, engage with the community, and learn from their
experiences. It complements the school’s “Chicago curriculum,” which Cangiano summarized by saying, “you become a great global citizen if you are a great local citizen.”

4th grade students practice counting in French class via Zoom (photo: of Gems World Academy)

Now that students are studying remotely, instead of analyzing the food supply chain by visiting Mariano’s or observing symbiosis by watching dogs and their owners in the park, the students journey through their immediate surroundings.

“We’re encouraging kids to look at the things we can learn from home,” Keiner explained. “Normally, we would go to Mariano’s; but now we’re going to go to the fridge.”

Besides bringing lessons into bedrooms and kitchen tables (where preschoolers seem to prefer studying math), the virtual classrooms reinforce an essential component of education that cannot be learned through books or computers.

  

Creating communities

“People and interaction are the most important,” Keiner said. “In the absence of a physical, real-time community, we’ve had to create communities. From kindergarten up to 12th grade, we’ve had children on Zoom calls with each other, cultivating and retaining relationships we’ve built.”

Gems lower school team members have a virtual meeting on Zoom (photo: Gems World Academy)

Although Cangiano has noticed that some of the students appear to “miss being physically present,” he said that GEMS teachers and counselors offer one-on-one calls and online support, and the parents have been “incredible.”

“Our message to parents was that, in order for this to work, this had to be a team effort,” Cangiano said. The message was contained in a booklet that outlined GEMS remote learning plan and asked parents for feedback. “Everybody had helpful tips,” he added. “We couldn’t be happier.”

This connectivity fuels a larger effort that will help everyone move forward, according to Director of Admissions Adriana Mourgelas. “When you not only have wonderful administrators who are supportive of faculty but also parents, that’s something that helps,” she said. “We are a community and we’ll get through this together.”

In that spirit, GEMS sends a survey to parents every Friday to encourage communication and feedback on how things are going.

“We got a gauge on challenges so that we could adjust what we’re doing so that we could make those tweaks and fine tune those things,” explained Cangiano. “About 90% of our respondents said it was going pretty darn well.”

What’s most important right now?

By Jon Cohn, April 1, 2020

 

I am a coach, so competition is always running through my mind even during these difficult times. I started to think of the items that are the most necessary while I am hunkered down at home. I started playing a game.

I thought of all the essentials. I started with hand sanitizers, books, paper towels and TV News updates.

Then kept at it: going for a walk, Netflix and Amazon Prime, alcoholic beverages, chicken breasts (man are they hard to find these days), sleep and rest, toilet paper, house cleaning, family discussions, the computer, board games and even mental toughness and resilience.

That was my “sweet sixteen.” But I wanted to know which is number one? What is most vital?

After some intense deliberations and difficult eliminations I cut the list in half. What survived were news updates, Netflix/Amazon Prime, books, toilet paper, hand sanitizers, going for a walk and mental toughness and resilience.

I still wanted to narrow it down to just one.

After an extremely painful back and forth, the final four: hand sanitizers, news updates, toilet paper and mental toughness remained. I felt bad about losing my books and especially “going for a walk,” but something had to give.

Still, to get down to one wasn’t easy. In the end, sorry news updates, I will miss you (maybe), and sorry hand sanitizer, you were so hard to find and now I have lost you again.

But I brought it down to the final two: mental toughness aka resilience or toilet paper. The logic, the sentiment, the morality play here would be for mental toughness. Good-ness knows in the coming weeks we will need this.

But I couldn’t stop the momentum of toilet paper. The sheer practicality of it all. It’s gaining popularity. It was a close and intense battle, but bottom line? Toilet paper wiped out the competition.

Some two months ago toilet paper was a mere afterthought. An easy to get resource that we all took for granted. How times have changed. The previously disregarded TP stood out as champion. The king of essential home items. Standing atop the world and looking down on all of us who may have looked down on it.

Lesson learned, TP, and no hard feelings. Won’t ever take you for granted again.

John Cohn is a New Eastside resident.

Image: stand png from pngtree.com.

Doorperson of the month: Roosevelt Shrivers at The Streeter

By Mat Cohen

 

This night owl has been building strong relationships and having some fun along the way.

Roosevelt Shrivers

Roosevelt Shivers, who has won the Streeterville News Doorperson of the Month, has been stationed on the late shift at the Streeter, 345 E. Ohio St., for 10 years.

“I love helping the residents feel at home when they come in,” he said. “When they see you smile, they smile, and it makes them feel better. That’s the joy.”

Before working at the Streeter, Shivers spent about a year helping at different residential buildings when needed. But the Streeter was something special.

“It’s a real down to earth, friendly building,” he said. “The leasing office treats us like family, and I’ve never been a part of a building that does, who let us use the facilities. We have rooms that they let us rent out to family, if we need it.”

“That’s the biggest thing for me, it feels like a family and it makes me want to come to work,” he added. “I love it.”

Roosevelt grew up on the west side of Chicago and loves the Cubs. When he’s working, he cherishes the full conversations with residents about the team. He’s also a self-proclaimed night person, which helps him with overnight shifts. Even if he wasn’t working, he said he’d still be up at 3 a.m.

“We’re the first thing they see in the morning and at night we’re the last person they see,” he said. “We’re there just to make the residents feel welcome, have a good day, good morning, or have a good night. We’re just the front line.”

Throughout his shift, he holds space for any resident to talk, vent or joke around, which comes naturally to him.

“I’m being just a shoulder they can lean on,” he said. “They’ll come talk and it’ll calm them down and get them in a better mood. That’s the easiest part of the job.”

Even on some late weekend nights when residents are arriving home after having some fun, he’s there for them.

“They’ll come the next day and thank me for everything,” he said. “My joke is, at least you made it back in one piece.

“As long as you make it in the door, I got you.”

Live from your living room: new experiences to have at home

By Stephanie Racine

 

Virtual museum tours

Travel through the travel ban and visit some of the world’s most famous museums on a virtual tour. Some of the tours available include the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, which houses works from famous French artists such as Gauguin, Monet and Degas. Locally, virtually visit The Art Institute of Chicago, The Field Museum and The Adler Planetarium, available through Google’s Art and Culture Platform. Visit artsandculture.google.com.

 

Help out a local Library

The Newberry Library is looking for volunteers to help transcribe historical letters from the 19th and early 20th centuries. The process is simple and can be done on the Newberry’s website. Read letters and diaries from people who lived in the midwest and those expanding the West, including some Native American history. Click here to get started.

 

Livestream a zoo

The Cincinnati Zoo will be going live on Facebook every day at 2 p.m. through April 9. One of their animals will be highlighted each day and an activity will be shared. Those without Facebook can watch the daily video on The Cincinnati Zoo’s website, or YouTube.

 

Foster a pet

PAWS Chicago is always looking for foster homes for their pets. Apply to foster a pet online at the PAWS chicago website. Fostering of some pets have specific requirements. Other pet rescues organizations looking for fosterers include the Anti-Cruelty Society and ALIVE Rescue.

 

At-home meditation

Meditation apps can help for relaxation and mindfulness. Calm and Headspace are apps that offer free or paid options. Listen to calming sounds or guided meditations in soothing voices. Available on the Apple App store and Google Play. 

 

Social media concerts 

A number of famous artists have taken to social media to perform livestream concerts. John Legend, Chris Martin of Coldplay and Keith Urban have taken requests on Instagram. Stay tuned on social media for the next surprise live performance.

New Eastside Resident makes offer to help

By Daniel Patton

 

New Eastside resident Karin Long has added a unique voice to the ongoing dialogue about the current national health crisis: she’s offering to help. Whether it is fetching groceries, waiting in line at the pharmacy, or completing some other small task, the Loyola law student recently posted her commitment to “getting those essentials for people who can’t get them” on the neighborhood app NextDoor.

Karin Long

After reading her offer, people responded with “a massive outpouring of shock and gratitude for what seems to me to be a very normal response to the crisis.”

“I got like a hundred replies,” she exclaims. “But only one person took me up on my offer.”

So she picked up some groceries for a fellow resident.

The gesture helped solve a problem very similar to the one that inspired her to get involved in the first place. “My grandmother, who lives in Indiana, needed someone to go to like four different stores to find toilet paper,” she says.

It also reinforces her desire to change the conversation.   

“I saw a lot of people shouting online about being scared and telling others what to do,” she recalls. “I thought, ‘what kind of action could I take to help take care of our little corner of the earth and help out your neighbors?’”

Now Long is willing and ready to help with additional requests, and she’s got suggestions for those who are unsure about what to ask.

“I would love it if moms would say, ‘I’m homeschooling my kids could you just get us groceries,’” she says. “Because if you’re working from home and you have kids, you have to practically homeschool them now.”

Besides helping on an individual level, she hopes the effort will affect some change on a larger scale.

“You hear all these stories from World War II of people pulling together to get through the tragedy,” she explains. “I hope my generation can do something similar.”

But first and foremost, it’s all about the little things. For our readers who could use a hand, Karin can be reached via Nextdoor.com.

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