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Your Monday afternoon briefing

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that w
Chicago Sun-Times Afternoon Edition
Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.
— Alice Bazerghi (@AliceBazerghi) & Satchel Price (@SatchelPrice)

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! This afternoon will be cloudy, with some scattered flurries, and a high near 31 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 21 degrees. Tomorrow will be sunny, but a bit cooler: the high will be near 26 degrees.
Top story
Chicago Teachers Union members and their supporters march and protest in Pilsen to call for "safety, equity and trust in any school reopening plan" on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times
Chicago Teachers Union members and their supporters march and protest in Pilsen to call for "safety, equity and trust in any school reopening plan" on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times
Linda Perales got emotional this morning as she looked out at a crowd of about 150 Chicago Public Schools teachers and community members who had gathered in Pilsen in solidarity with thousands of educators and staff who returned to schools earlier this month.
“Over 75% of parents have decided to stay home, so we know that what we’re doing, what we’re fighting for, is right,” said Perales, who choked back tears. “And [Mayor] Lori Lightfoot and [CPS CEO] Janice Jackson need to listen to us.”
Perales was one of the thousands of Chicago Public Schools teachers expected to return to the classroom with students earlier this month. But Perales, who teaches kindergarten through second grade as part of Corkery Elementary School’s cluster program, decided to stay home and continue to teach class online out of concern that CPS’ reopening plan wasn’t safe.
Subsequently, she and more than 140 other educators were restricted from teaching Jan. 11 until they returned to school buildings.
“I want to be teaching. I’m ready to teach, but remotely until it’s safe,” said Perales, who clutched a handmade “Let me teach” sign. “[This fight is] not just for us, it’s for our students that could take COVID home to their families that have already been hit hard. It’s to keep everyone safe.”
The Chicago Teachers Union and its supporters held a march on the South Side this morning as it continued the union’s monthslong plea for a safe reopening plan.
More than 3,700 teachers and school employees and some 6,000 preschoolers and special education students with complex disabilities were expected to return to school buildings last week for the first time since March, though it’s unclear how many students actually showed up.
With the return of even more teachers and staff imminent — the next wave, which is much larger than the first, is set to go back to schools Jan. 25 — CTU and its supporters are feeling the pressure to ensure a safe return to the classroom for its members and students.
More news you need
  1. Days after being deposed as Illinois House speaker, Michael Madigan has vacated his Springfield apartment, fueling speculation that he will resign the Illinois House seat he has held since 1971. “They were downsizing. He doesn’t expect to be there as much,” said Madigan’s spokesman Steve Brown.
  2. After a semester during which the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign saw its positivity rate plunge below 1%, with no major outbreaks, hospitalizations or deaths, the university’s testing protocol has become a model. Across the nation, other universities took notice of UIUC’s success and are adopting the protocol.
  3. State health officials today reported 3,385 new and probable COVID-19 cases — its smallest daily caseload in over three weeks — as Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate continued to fall. Health officials also announced an additional 50 coronavirus-related deaths, raising the statewide death toll to 18,258.
  4. Joe Scheidler, the founder of the Pro-Life Action League, died today at the age of 93, the organization confirmed. A frequent sight at anti-abortion protests, Scheidler is known as the godfather of the pro-life movement.
  5. A California man has been charged with felony criminal trespass after he allegedly spent the last three months hiding in a restricted area of O'Hare Airport. Aditya Singh, 36, told police the COVID-19 pandemic left him afraid to fly back to his West Coast home.
  6. Maj. Gen. William Walker, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard overseeing the massive military mobilization for Joe Biden’s inauguration, is a former St. Sabina’s altar boy and Leo High School graduate who grew up at 75th and Aberdeen. He talked to our Lynn Sweet.
  7. Black politicians and others connected to politics in Chicago are joining forces for a six-month training program for the next generation of Black leaders. The program, called the Black Bench, launched today.
A bright one
Chicago Public Schools’ fourth-grade students will be in charge of naming one of the newest additions to the Shedd Aquarium.
A female Pacific white-sided dolphin calf, born Aug. 31 to Katrl, has yet to be named, and the animal care team at the Shedd is teaming up with the city school system to choose its perfect name, according to a release from the aquarium.
Students voting will choose from five names: Harmony, Rae, Joy, Hope and Grace. Voting begins Tuesday and runs through Friday.
Pacific white-sided dolphin Katrl swims with her newborn, the yet-to-be-named calf at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. | Shedd
Pacific white-sided dolphin Katrl swims with her newborn, the yet-to-be-named calf at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. | Shedd
Children from 16 classrooms, chosen by CPS, the Shedd and Children First Fund, will also get the opportunity to take a special virtual field trip to the aquarium, the release said. Biologists, veterinarians and caretakers will be on hand to answer questions and share more about the calf.
The name will be revealed at the end of the month, the Shedd said, and CPS teachers will also have access to online resources and activities to encourage further environmental study.
From the press box
If the deteriorating relationship between the Texans and star quarterback Deshaun Watson proves unfixable, Bears GM Ryan Pace would have a long shot opportunity to rectify his biggest mistake. It’s unlikely, but Pace is bold, if nothing else. And a little desperate, Mark Potash writes.
And the Bulls take on the Rockets this evening at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. For years, the core of this group hasn’t been pushed into putting in the extra work needed to become winners. That mentality is over now, and coach Billy Donovan hopes the players can take that next step, Joe Cowley writes.
Your daily question  ☕
How are you celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day?
Reply to this email (please include your first name and where you live) and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.
Friday, we asked you: How do you plan on spending this very snowy long weekend? Here’s what some of you said…
“Definitely won’t be watching the Bears!” — Jack Bednarz
“I signed up for Discovery Plus, will be watching on my iPad.” — Barbara Dzialakiewicz
“Inside with soup and projects around the house.” — Andrea Gorman
“Working on my classic car in the garage.” — Ricj Taulbee
“Working on my jigsaw puzzle.” — Joyce Heiser
“Home in my sweats and reading.” — Marla K. Witt
Thanks for reading the Chicago Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.
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