Archive for the ‘The New Normal’ Category


Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle


Cook County issued new rules effective Jan. 3 requiring people to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to enter county restaurants, fitness centers, and bars or entertainment and recreational venues serving food to reduce spiraling cases.

“Earlier this year, we had hoped that we were on a path to finally put the pandemic behind us,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Thursday.

“But unfortunately, with the dual threat presented by the Delta and Omicron variants, and with cases, hospitalizations and deaths rising to new heights across Cook County, we must once again reassess and realign our strategies with what the science is telling us.”

On Wednesday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 16,581 new COVID-19 cases. It’s the second highest daily count since the pandemic began.

Contributing to the latest virus surge is the omicron variant, which is extremely contagious and causing about 73% of new infections in the U.S., the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot instituted similar rules.

Read more here.

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A Flock Safety license plate reader camera uses a proprietary algorithm to identify a license plate, vehicle make, type and color.

Lake County officials want to know more about how data is used before determining whether automatic license plate readers should be allowed on county-owned highway rights of way.

Members of the county board’s public works, transportation and planning committee agree high-speed cameras can help law enforcement but are wary of unintended consequences involving potential privacy issues.

“There are some concerns of who has access to this information and when,” said committee member John Wasik of Grayslake.

“Our responsibility is things are not always used as intended,” said committee member Ann Maine of Lincolnshire.

The high-speed, computer-controlled cameras capture license plate numbers, location, date and time, a photograph of the vehicle, the driver and/or passengers.

In early October, the county staff was directed to study the possibility of allowing readers to be installed along several county highways in Zion’s municipal limit. The city already has readers in its jurisdiction and wants to add more.

“The push to our community is to improve the safety of citizens by using technology,” Zion police Chief Eric Barden told the committee.

Several other communities also have notified the Lake County Division of Transportation they are considering using the readers, according to Shane Schneider, director of transportation and county engineer.

Read more here.

Related:Libertyville police planning license plate readers at five locations

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brainwashing 3000

Carpentersville parents Yosuf Chaudhry and Amena Alvi are speaking out about a former history teacher at their daughter’s school whom accuse of proselytizing through a school club. The Muslim couple are suing Community Unit District 300 and former Jacobs High School teacher Pierre Thorsen. (Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer)

Carpentersville parents Yosuf Chaudhry and Amena Alvi got the shock of their lives when they learned their 15-year-old daughter had renounced her Islamic faith and secretly converted to Christianity.

But how the conversion happened was more worrisome for the Muslim couple, who are accusing a former Jacobs High School history teacher of using his position to proselytize to their daughter and other students through a Christian school club.

After nearly two years of silence, the parents are speaking out about how their family life has been disrupted. The Daily Herald was unable to speak with the couple’s daughter, who, according to her parents, has declined to discuss the matter with the media, and even with them or with counselors.

The couple filed a complaint in federal court last October against Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300, outgoing Superintendent Fred Heid and former Jacobs history teacher Pierre Thorsen. It alleges, among other things, violations of the couple’s rights under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. They accuse the district and Heid of establishing a custom of promoting and advancing Christianity and religion through hiring and retaining Thorsen and allowing him to “promote evangelical Christianity while denigrating other religions for over 20 years.”

The couple say their concern is not their daughter’s conversion itself, but the circumstances that suggest the teenager was being pressured by the teacher about personal religious decisions. They said she previously never had taken an active interest in learning about religion, though she had been allowed the space to develop a personal relationship with God at her own pace in the Islamic tradition. She also hadn’t independently researched other faiths to come to that conclusion, the couple say.

They claim Thorsen, while acting in his capacity as a public school teacher at the Algonquin high school, groomed and indoctrinated their daughter since her freshman year.

Read more here.

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It seems that Barrington Hills Park District officials believe the less residents are informed, the better off they are.

The Barrington Hills Park District Board will hold their regular monthly meeting this evening via Zoom at 7 PM.  A copy of their agenda can be viewed here, but just as we’ve cautioned repeatedly, don’t expect much information.  

There are no minutes available from the February meeting for the public to review online, nor is a recording of the Zoom meeting. The District WAS kind enough to include taxpayers with their 2019 Annual Financial Statement (found here) when we pointed out one of their lapses in transparency last month.

Information on how to join the Zoom meetings tonight can be found here.

We should also note that last week the District Advisory Committee met on March 2nd.  The notice can be found here, but there was no agenda posted nor any minutes. Even more disappointing, when searching the District website (found here), there’s no information to be found on this Committee. 

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Because so many students at Barrington High School are choosing all-virtual learning, seniors who had chosen hybrid learning now have the option to go full day, five days a week, and juniors can expect the same soon, officials said. (Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer)

Barrington High School junior Austin Molinaro knew that going back to in-person learning was going to be different, what with face masks, social distancing and all the rest. He didn’t expect it to be so disheartening.

“I’m not going to lie — it wasn’t fun at all … ” Austin said. “It just felt like a ghost town when you were walking through the hallways.”

 Students in Barrington Area Unit District 220 had the option of starting hybrid learning last week — meaning alternately going to school and learning from home — or sticking with all-virtual learning. Austin is among a minority who returned to Barrington High.

The district has had all-virutal learning this year with the exception of a few days in October. High school Principal Steve McWilliams said families who said they preferred in-person learning dropped from 75% last summer, to just over 60% in October, to 46% in December. For seniors, it’s about 40%, he said.

Because so many are staying home, the district announced Friday that seniors at Barrington High now have the option to go full-day, five days a week. Juniors can expect to have the same option soon, McWilliams said.

So why are so many students, especially seniors, choosing to stay home? A variety of reasons, McWilliams said, adding the same is happening at other suburban high schools.

Read more here.

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Groundhog Days festivities still are on the calendar next week in Woodstock to help the city celebrate the 28th anniversary of the release of the film “Groundhog Day,” starring Bill Murray and filmed in Woodstock, but COVID-19 has caused organizers to scale back the festival.

No official Groundhog Day breakfast will take place this year, and no dinner dance chili cook-off or group movies either, because organizers were unable to host such events safely in compliance with the Restore Illinois and federal COVID-19 guidelines, according to the website woodstockgroundhog.org.

A prognostication still us set to be held, meaning attendees to the city’s Park on the Square downtown can watch whether Woodstock Willie sees his shadow, which would, as legend has it, mean six more weeks of winter weather. That will take place 7 a.m. Feb. 2. Masks and social distancing are required.

The prognostication also will be livestreamed online this year.

Read more here.

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The Observer takes a look back at another year gone by, as we present the most frequently read news stories and editorials in 2020. Click on any title to read and revisit stories from this past year.

Racism allegations follow as plan to move 25 kids into Barrington Hills home stalls

Although the leader of an organization helping disadvantaged minority youths contends race is a factor in his delayed plan to move into a Barrington Hills home with 25 children of color, village officials say the zoning code is the only issue.

This June 30 article received 11 comments, and 12 Facebook shares.

Time to stop giving 220’s Harris passes

A week ago today hundreds of parents and students in Barrington Area Unit District 220 gathered at a rally in Citizens Park to ask the district to allow in-person schooling to resume. Some spoke while others displayed signs such as, “Open our schools for in-person learning,” or “Face 2 Face learning is essential” (seeI am asking for a choice’: Barrington 220 parents, students rally for in-person learning” and “Hundreds turn out for Barrington rally calling for end to remote learning, restart of student sports”).

No one commented on this September 21 editorial, but a record 86 people shared it on Facebook.

220 won’t consider COVID-19 testing at this time (as opposed to New Trier, thus our response

Wednesday District 220 emailed the following notice to the community:

Over the past couple of weeks, the district has been looking at the possibility of using COVID-19 testing as one additional component of several virus mitigation efforts. At the Dec. 1 Board meeting, the Board decided it would not consider using COVID-19 testing at this time due to high costs and the fact that it would not be a full proof [sic] measure in preventing the spread of the virus.  Click here to watch the Board’s full discussion about COVID-19 testing.

New Trier Township High School District 203 did not hesitate at all when in October they announced, “…they will pay up to $1.3 million to conduct COVID-19 saliva screenings for students and staff.” As a result of their proactive measures, some students are back in classroom today, December 4.

There were 2 comments on this December 2 editorial, and 3 shares on Facebook.

Homicide investigation on Old Sutton Rd just south of Otis Rd, Barrington Hills

Barrington Hills police and firefighter/paramedics from Barrington -Countryside FPD responded about 3:34 a.m. Saturday March 7, 2020 to a report that multiple people were shot at or near a home in the block of 300 Old Sutton Road. Police and firefighter/paramedics received a report that there were multiple gunshot victims. At least two victim were transported to a local hospital. At least one victim was possibly dead at the scene.

We got one comment to this March 7 story, but 35 shares on Facebook.

Fact checking

On Monday night, CBS Chicago reported a story that included audio and text stating the following:

“Over 20 acres of tree-lined property nestled in affluent Barrington Hills feature tennis courts and a sprawling home purchased by Terrance Wallace, the InZone Project founder.” (InZone Project Founder Says He’s Been Hit With Red Tape In Efforts To Bring Black And Brown Boys From Chicago To Live In Barrington Hills Mansion.)

There is no recorded public record of a recent sale of the property on 541 Merri Oaks Road. Public records do indicate that the property is currently owned by a Trust and has been under the ownership of the Trust or related parties since 2002.

There were no comments or shares on this July 1 article..

NEW! Solitude Ranch w/Indoor Pool, Event Friendly! $599 per night

Sneak away from the big city for a peaceful stay at ‘Solitude Ranch,’ a vacation rental in Barrington! This ranch is one-of-a-kind, offering 3,567 square feet of space complete with 4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, an upscale kitchen, sunken den, wall-to-wall windows, and even an indoor pool!

There were 3 comments made about this March 7 ad, but no shares

Barrington District 220 reverses course, switches to online classes only

Reversing course on its plan to let parents choose between in-person and online classes, Barrington Area Unit School District 220 announced Wednesday that it would offer only remote learning when school opens next month.

There was one Facebook share, and 9 comments to this July 29 article (most of which objected to our choice of graphic used).

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Barrington Area Unit District 220 said Thursday it will continue to follow its five-metric plan for reopening schools during COVID-19, a move endorsed by its teacher union. That means the district will not return to hybrid learning next week, as some parents and school board members hoped.

Barrington Area Unit District 220 will not modify its reopening plan but instead continue will all-virtual learning for the foreseeable future, a move endorsed by its teachers union despite a push to reopen from some parents and some school board members.

Three school board members said last week they wanted to move away from the metrics and reopen schools as soon as possible. The topic was discussed at a meeting Monday that included school administrators, two school board members, the Barrington Education Association, which represents teachers, and the Barrington School District Employee Organization, which represents educational support professionals.

The school board met in closed session Wednesday evening to discuss the topic. School Board President Penny Kazmier didn’t respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Melissa Atteberry, president of the Barrington Education Association teachers union, said the vast majority of its 715 or so members don’t want to eliminate any of the five reopening metrics, particularly given the current surge of COVID-19 cases across the region.

“We understand this is difficult for parents and for students. It’s difficult for staff and the whole community,” Atteberry said earlier this week.

Charles Parkinson, president of the Barrington School District Employee Organization, declined to comment.

Read (little) more here, but expect no comments.

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District 220 issued the following release this morning:

“November 12, 2020

Dear Barrington 220 Community: 

In our COVID-19 update earlier this week, we shared that we would provide further communication today about the Hybrid status moving forward. 

We wanted to inform you that Barrington 220 will continue to follow our established five metrics. This means the district will remain in the adaptive pause until the data shows it is safe to return to the Hybrid mode.

Please understand that while we had hoped to return to Hybrid on Monday, Nov. 16, the safety of our students and staff must remain our top priority as the virus continues to spread within our community and surrounding communities.

In order to keep everyone informed, we will continue sending out weekly COVID-19 updates on Monday afternoons.”

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Released this afternoon from 220:

“At its Nov. 4 meeting, the Board of Education discussed several key issues regarding the future of the 20-21 school year and agreed to extend the adaptive pause of the Hybrid mode until Monday, Nov. 16. 

The Board has scheduled a special meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 11 for the purpose of having a closed session to discuss employment matters, collective negotiating matters and litigation matters. The district will provide further communication no later than Thursday, Nov. 12 about the Hybrid status moving forward. 

The 20-21 school year discussion also focused on key issues such as:

  • Exposure and liability: The Board and district leaders will be having more conversations next week to explore options of how Barrington 220 can implement a Hybrid plan moving forward, with consideration of exposure and liability as the virus spreads in the community.

  • Re-opening Metrics Adjustment: The Board may consider adjusting the metrics in the future in order to make in-person instruction feasible.

  • Academic Calendar Adjustment: The Board is not considering adjusting the 20-21 academic calendar at this time.

  • Budget Expectations: The Board will consider spending beyond the FY21 budget in order to safely allow students back into school.

To view the entire discussion, watch this video from 1:21:34 thru 3:58:54”

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