NOTE: A live stream of the events will appear in the player above starting at 10:15 am.
US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona is due to make three stops in Illinois on Tuesday as part of a “Back to School Road Trip”, with a “special announcement” expected at one of the events .
Cardona will first visit Walter R. Sundling High School in the Palatine for what he and Illinois Governor JB Pritzker say is a “special announcement,” though more details on what it might be. have not yet been published. US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy will also be present.
A school visit should start just before 9 a.m. with the announcement made at 10.15 a.m.
Cardona will also visit a health center in Cicero administering COVID-19 vaccinations and Chicago State University, where he will host a panel discussion on “the future of predominantly black institutions and equity in education” . Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is also expected to attend the CSU visit.
The bus tour taking place this week aims to “highlight schools and communities that have safely welcomed students for in-person learning,” according to a statement from the US Department of Education. Other cities visited this week include South Bend, Indiana; Toledo, Ohio; Saginaw, Lansing, Detroit and Canton in Michigan.
The visits come as Illinois’ vaccination mandate for school workers begins. The deadline for health workers, teachers and higher education students to receive the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine was Sunday. Second doses of the vaccine must be received within 30 days of the first dose, depending on state requirements.
More than 200 coronavirus outbreaks were reported from schools in Illinois as of Friday, several involving more than a dozen cases in educational institutions, statewide data showed.
The latest figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health showed 206 outbreaks were active in Illinois schools as of Friday, including 26 in Cook County alone.
Yet Pritzker, Lightfoot and local health officials have repeatedly pledged to keep schools open.
Chicago’s top doctor said outbreaks in schools were expected, but not at a higher rate than one would expect in the community.
“Please rest assured that the predictor of what is happening with the children is what is happening in the community,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr Allison Arwady said Thursday. “So we’ve seen time and time again here in Chicago across the United States, all over the world, that the primary factor in what happens with infections in children is not whether they are at school, but what is happening with the community spread and the epidemic throughout the community. “
“There are cases, we will see some spread, don’t get me wrong, in schools in youth establishments, but statistically children are the most likely to be infected with COVID at home”, a- she added.