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Your Thursday afternoon briefing

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.
— Satchel Price (@satchelprice)

This afternoon will be cloudy with a high near 19 degrees and a 60% chance of snow. More snow is in the forecast for tonight as temperatures will dip to a low of around 9 degrees. Tomorrow will be mostly cloudy with a high around 15 degrees.
Top story
Rosa Camacho drops off her daughter while her son tags along at Disney II Magnet Elementary School. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
Rosa Camacho drops off her daughter while her son tags along at Disney II Magnet Elementary School. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
After months of arguing about hand sanitizers, positivity rates, air purifiers and the like, a sense of normalcy returned to the city’s public schools today — at least from the outside — as parents clutching mittened hands led their children up snow-dusted steps and back to the classroom.
“I’m kind of scared, but at the same time, he needs to be in school instead of on the computer,” said Eboni Johnson, walking her preschooler, Ashton, to William H. Brown Elementary School on the Near West Side. “He needs to be with other kids. He’s an only child. He needs to have hands-on with his learning.”
She worried about Johnson getting sick — something she planned to tackle with both a spiritual and a practical approach: “I’ve got to pray and keep him clean,” she said.
Today marked the start of what could be up to 67,000 preschool through eighth-grade students trickling back into schools. The first to return were prekindergarten, cluster programs and their teachers. The return comes after the Chicago Teachers Union earlier this week approved Chicago Public Schools’ plan to return to in-person learning.
Allison DeBoer, who leads the pre-K class at Disney II Magnet School in Old Irving Park, said five of her classroom’s 15 kids showed up for in-person learning today. She was tasked with teaching those students as well as another 10 online.
“As a teacher, I feel like I’m ready to be back,” said DeBoer, noting she’d been vaccinated. “But as a parent of three CPS students, they’re staying home till next year. I’m not sending them back.”
If the phased-in return of students goes smoothly, CPS CEO Janice Jackson said she is confident that the overwhelming majority of parents who have chosen to keep their children home and learning remotely will feel safe to choose the in-person option during the fourth quarter.
“Many parents have said, ‘We’ll send ’em back when you figure it out.’ Well, we’ve figured it out,” the schools CEO said.
More news you need
  1. While Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he remains optimistic about the state’s COVID-19 vaccine supply growing soon, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle rejected his plan to expand the pool of eligible shot recipients later this month. They said doing so would create “an even harder time” for those still waiting to get vaccinated.
  2. House Democrats prosecuting Donald Trump’s impeachment, while wrapping up their opening presentation this afternoon, said the violent Capitol invaders believed they were acting on “the president’s orders.” Trump’s lawyers will launch their defense tomorrow, and the trial could wrap by this weekend.
  3. Nance Legins-Costley was the first Black person freed from slavery by Abraham Lincoln, but her Illinois grave was paved over and few know her story. Historians say Legins-Costley’s fight for freedom pushed a previously ambivalent Lincoln toward an anti-slavery stance, and should not be forgotten.
  4. Chicago police want aldermen to use annual menu budget money on surveillance cameras and license plate readers to help combat rises in carjackings and shootings. But Ald. Jeanette Taylor, citing the need to spend menu money on road repair and CPD’s $1.55 billion annual budget, said “they should pay for it.”
  5. Illinois State Police will get $12.5 million to install high-definition surveillance cameras to address an increase in expressway shootings. In 2020, there were 128 shootings on Cook County expressways, up from 52 the year before. So far this year, there have been 27 shootings.
  6. A "smart” laundromat now open in Rogers Park features special machines that won’t require customers to bring detergent or dryer sheets. The first-of-its-kind location, which is owned by a pair of Chicago operators through a deal with Tide, is part of a nationwide rollout by parent company Proctor & Gamble.
A bright one
When news began to spread regarding the production of “Judas and the Black Messiah,” the film detailing the last days of Black Panther Illinois chapter chairman Fred Hampton’s life, and how an aide infiltrated the organization at the behest of the FBI, those who knew the charismatic leader had questions.
Is Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. involved in the project? Did Fred Jr. give his blessing?
It turns out that several projects had been brought to Hampton Jr.’s attention over the years — and for this one he had a request of his own: He required the project’s stakeholders to meet him where many of the pivotal events leading up to his father’s killing by Chicago police officers took place.
Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. (left) and producer Charles D. King on the set of “Judas and the Black Messiah.” | Warner Bros.
Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. (left) and producer Charles D. King on the set of “Judas and the Black Messiah.” | Warner Bros.
Hampton Jr., chairman of the next-generation group Black Panther Party Cubs, met with cast members Daniel Kaluuya, who was cast to play his father in the film, and Dominique Fishback, who was set to play his mother Deborah Johnson (later known as Akua Njeri), along with other cast and crew members.
Both Hampton Jr. and Njeri later joined the film as consultants on the set — which was in Cleveland, not Chicago.
“He enriched what we were doing,” said Kaluuya. “To have him and Mama Akua was invaluable to have a part of this process.”
From the press box
Why would the Bulls trade Zach LaVine when he’s on the verge of his first All-Star appearance? As head coach Billy Donovan said last week, “Winning sets the rules, I don’t,” Joe Cowley writes.
Your daily question  ☕
How do you plan on celebrating Valentine’s Day this weekend?
Reply to this email (please include your first name and where you live) and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.
Yesterday, we asked you: Do you agree with the NBA’s decision to force the Dallas Mavericks to play the national anthem at home games? Here’s what some of you said…
“No. It’s their franchise. They want to play it at an appropriate venue and time. It seems practically the ONLY time the national anthem is played is a sporting event … Playing it at frivolous things like games cheapens its meaning and makes it routine and mundane. Far from special.” — Heather Burkhalter
“Yes… God Bless America … honor all who served to protect us… it’s the right thing to do.” — Greg Wolfe
“If it’s part of a previously agreed upon policy with the owners and the NBA, then yes, they can definitely require the anthem to be played.” — Sarah Beck Byrd
"No. Professional sports have little to nothing to do with patriotism. They are about money and entertainment.“ — Nancy Eichelberger
"I find it way more telling that no one noticed for so long. Shows that it’s really not at all a necessity.” — Bill Molloy
“It is ridiculous to play the anthem before every game. It should only be on special occasions. This is the way it used to be.” — Frank Collins
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