Hope For High School Sports This Fall Fades Due To COVID-19

Hope For High School Sports This Fall Fades Due To COVID-19

July 21, 2020 – Fourth of July parties may have hurt the chances for high school football and other contact sports this fall. After the Independence Day holiday, a few schools reported an uptick in COVID-19 cases among students.  

“It had nothing to do with football and the activities that our schools were doing. It was what they were doing when they were away from our schools that have caused a few new cases,” said Craig Anderson, executive director of the Illinois High School Association.  

The rise in cases among Illinois high school students got the attention of the Illinois Department of Public Health. As a result, the department changed its guidelines for school sports practices. Contact drills that had been approved on July 1, were once again prohibited.  

Not a good sign for Anderson and many Illinois parents who had been hoping to see school sports on the calendar as usual this fall. Another indicator makes sports that involve physical contact, such as football, soccer, volleyball, and cross country uncertain for fall 2020.  

Some Illinois teacher organizations are advocating for starting the new school year with “all remote” learning instead of in-person classes. If fall classes are all virtual, and students are home all day, having them get to school in the afternoons for practices and other activities is a difficult proposition that sends the wrong message, Anderson said.  

Gov. J.B. Prtizker recently divided Illinois into 11 regions during the COVID-19 crisis.  One option that is being discussed is having schools in central and southern Illinois and other regions where there are fewer COVID-19 cases, reopen for in-person classes and sports this fall. Larger schools in regions where there are more cases and more problems with safety could cancel fall sports and continue with virtual learning.  

The Illinois High School Association members will meet Wednesday to discuss all the options for the soon-to-be-here fall sports season.   Some parents and sports fans are angry at the Illinois High School Association for not lobbying harder for a full fall sports calendar. Anderson says his organization is a non-profit with a membership of schools throughout the state.  

“Our governance is strictly independent,” Anderson said. 

IHSA takes no money from the state. It raises its funding from ticket sales at state series events. The Department of Education oversees Illinois schools, but it does not involve itself in sports policy.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, health and safety of students, coaches and spectators has been the No. 1 concern. Anderson said the IHSA is “leaning on IDPH, the governor’s office and medical experts to guide them.” 

DFTA and DPS Reach Tentative Agreement

DFTA and DPS Reach Tentative Agreement

July 19, 2020 – Decatur Public Schools have reached a tentative agreement on a 2019-2023 successor contract with the Decatur Federation of Teaching Assistants.

Members of DFTA voted to ratify the contract on Friday. T

he DPS Board of Education will vote at its meeting Tuesday, July 21, to accept the contract agreement.

At that time, the details of the contract will be released.   

Run United 5K Goes Virtual

Run United 5K Goes Virtual

July 16, 2020- Due to COVID-19, this year’s Run United 5K will be going virtual.

Instead of the traditional race, runners will be able to run on their own time, on their own course, in any condition, as long as its total distance is equivalent to a 5k. Then from 5 pm Friday, Aug. 21, through 5 pm Sunday, Aug. 23  participants can submit their times for their 5k online. The final results will be available online on Aug. 24.

The first 50 runners to sign up get will receive a Run United running hat from Boco Gear and other gear from Fleet Feet Decatur IL.
Registration is $20 this year and all proceeds come to United Way to support COVID-19 recovery.
To register for the race click here
Better Government Association Keeping Illinois’ Governments Operating Transparently During COVID-19

Better Government Association Keeping Illinois’ Governments Operating Transparently During COVID-19

July 15th, 2020- The Better Government Association wants to keep Illinois’ governments operating transparently at all levels during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The nonpartisan watchdog group in Illinois recently held a discussion via Zoom on the fight for access to public information.

The event was called “Open or Shut Case: COVID-19 and the Fight for Public Records.” The topic was how governments have tried to relax the requirements of the state’s Open Meetings Act and Freedom of Information Act during the coronavirus emergency and the efforts to resists such moves.

Panelists also shared insights on a recent victory in a lawsuit to preserve police misconduct records, and how FOIA requests can be misunderstood.

“I think that the public tends to look at FOIA as sort of a media versus government thing and not to really understand that it really benefits them and what we do is on their behalf,” BGA Policy Director Marie Dillon said.

BGA general counsel Matt Topic said the lack of resources for media sources, especially in downstate Illinois, is prompting the general public to make FOIA requests.

“Little things like getting the expense reports and credit card bills from (a) downstate library board. No one is watching that,” he said. “Local papers are stretched thin and don’t always do that kind of journalism work so I am seeing a lot more just average people doing this.”

The Better Government Association began in 1923 when a group of lawyers, clergymen, and businessmen created an organization to fight corruption in government.

Summer Season Soon to be Cicada Season

Summer Season Soon to be Cicada Season

July 6th, 2020- A sure sign of summer, cicadas are emerging throughout Illinois after hibernating underground for years.

There are three types of cicadas in Illinois: Annual cicadas and periodic cicadas, which emerge in 13-year and 17-year cycles. Seventeen-year cicadas are the longest living insect known to man. No one knows why, but Illinois has the largest brood of cicadas in the world.

Ted Burgess, an entomologist at Northern Illinois University, said Illinoisans are fortunate to witness such a special event.

“This is something that is very unique to the Midwest that not everybody in the world can experience and we get to experience the biggest occurrence of it anywhere in the world,” he said.

The cicadas unique life cycle comes as a means of predator avoidance. The theory is cicadas spend a prime number of years underground, 13 or 17 depending on the species, to avoid synching up with predators. Then by descending in unison, the millions of defenseless cicadas can overwhelm predators and stand a chance at survival.

Burgess said this summer will be steady with cicadas emerging, but the main invasion will be in 2024.

As for the rumor that cicadas are tasty?

“Periodical cicadas specifically are thought to taste like almonds,” Burgess said. “I don’t recommend people go in their backyards to try to catch them and eat them, but they are certainly edible under certain conditions.”

Banking Scams Increase Due To COVID-19

Banking Scams Increase Due To COVID-19

June 29th, 2020- The Federal Bureau of Investigation said online banking has increased 50% because of the COVID-19 pandemic and scammers are taking advantage.

The bureau warned against two types of scams especially: one is the creation of fake banking apps, and the other is installing “trojans,” a form of malware that can take control of your phone or tablet and then extract information from your banking app when you open it.

“The FBI issued a warning, and this is a warning that’s been issued by the Better Business Bureau as well,” Steve Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau.

He said to be especially wary of any offer for a banking app that comes through an email or text.

“There’s a possibility of the scammer is getting into a bank-app set-up where you think you’re getting an email from your bank, but you’re actually getting an email from a scammer,” he said. “And you’re giving them all the information to get into your bank account.

“You’ve got to be very careful when you download apps. The best way to avoid the situation is by doing business with companies you know and trust and work directly with them not following links or text messages.”

In other words, go directly to the bank website, or at least to a reputable app store.

“Scammers always go where the money is,” Bernas said, advising due diligence to they don’t wind up with yours.

For information, visit bbb.org.

Governor Visits Boys and Girls Club of Decatur To Highlight Child Care Funding

Governor Visits Boys and Girls Club of Decatur To Highlight Child Care Funding

June 10, 2020 – Gov. J.B. Pritzker visited the Boys & Girls Club of Decatur to highlight the importance of child care facilities.

Boys & Girls Clubs and similar facilities in Illinois that were shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic have reopened under guidelines from the Illinois Department of Public Health. The Boys and Girls Club was able to re-open it’s doors on Monday with new health guidelines.

State Sen. Andy Manar said including facilities like the Boys & Girls Club in the recently passed state budget was important.

“We are able to reopen child care providers and community-based providers because prioritized that funding in the budget this year,” he said. “We chose not to ‘slash and burn’ programs that impact youth.”

Boys & Girls Clubs around the state and programs like TeenREACH were left in limbo during the budget impasse of 2015.

State Rep. Sue Sherer also spoke of the importance of keeping the facilities funded.

“I just want to say how critically important it is in these times that we offer the programs and services for Boys & Girls Clubs because these our children, these are the most neediest, these are the ones we need to tuck under our wing and take care of,” she said.

The Illinois Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs is comprised of 27 organizations, serving over 60,000 youth each year at more than 90 sites.