COVID-19 Resources for Chicago Families

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Chicago Families: This continues to be an uncertain and scary time for us all. Elevate Chicago is staying up-to-date on how the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is impacting individuals and communities around the country, and we are sharing information on how we keep our families, students, volunteers, and the entire community informed about how to stay safe. 

This document is intended to provide various resources and information for families and community members during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We have pooled information and resources here from several government, education, and community organizations, and we are grateful for their public sharing of this information. We hope this document will be shared widely to support everyone during this time.

We are sharing specific information in three areas:

OUR HEALTH & COMMUNITY

What is Coronavirus and COVID-19?

  • Coronavirus causes a respiratory illness called COVID-19. Coronavirus spreads from person-to-person, and is only diagnosed with a laboratory test.
  • Because it is a virus, it is not able to be treated with antibiotics. Vaccines to prevent COVID-19 are now available. See below for more information.
  • COVID-19 causes symptoms like cough, fever, shortness of breath, fatigue and sometimes body aches. 
  • The latest variant of COVID-19 is the Omicron variant. Here’s what the CDC has said about this variant: 
    • Spread
      • The Omicron variant likely will spread more easily than the original virus. The CDC expects that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms.
    • Vaccines
      • Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant. However, breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated are likely to occur. With other variants, like Delta, vaccines have remained effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. The recent emergence of Omicron further emphasizes the importance of vaccination and boosters.
  • According to the CDC, the best ways to prevent coronavirus are to get vaccinated, wear a mask, stay 6 feet away from others, avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, wash your hands often, cover coughs and sneezes, clean and disinfect your home, and monitor your health daily. 

 

Where can I find information about the Coronavirus vaccine?

Complete information about obtaining the vaccine in Illinois available on this page.

Where can I find information about how the Illinois state government and Chicago city government are responding to Coronavirus? 

  • For Illinois, visit the state government at this link.  All COVID-19 cases are reported to the Illinois Department of Health. 
    • If you have specific questions about Coronavirus, you can contact the Illinois Department of Health at 1-800-889-3931 or dph.sick@illinois.gov.
  • Locally, the City of Chicago is providing updates at their Department of Public Health website. You can sign up for text updates at this link.

Chicago is currently in Phase 5 of reopening. What does that mean?

  • While capacity limits and social distancing requirements at most businesses have been lifted, masks are required in all indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status. Effective January 3, 2022, any individual 5 years of age or older will be required to show proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to dine indoors, visit gyms, or enjoy entertainment venues where food or drink are being served.
  • You can read more guidance from the City of Chicago here.

I or someone in my household is not feeling well. What can I do? How can I get tested?

  • If you are not feeling well, please stay home if you can to avoid spreading any germs to others. 
  • If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 OR you have symptoms, such as a cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider or local doctor’s office for medical advice. Please tell your healthcare provider about your symptoms.  
  • Your healthcare provider will make the decision if you should be tested or not.  If you are advised to get tested, you can find a testing site at this link.

How can I support our local and national community during this time? What can I do for all families & kids?

  • The best way to keep your family and community safe is to make sure that you are fully vaccinated against the virus! If you start to feel sick, keep others safe by staying at home. 
  • Call your friends and neighbors to check on them. You might find an elderly neighbor isn’t aware that they can have their groceries delivered. Or you may discover your friend needs some emotional support.
  • Buy a gift card to a local restaurant or shop. Whether you want to support your local restaurant who had to temporarily shut their doors or you want to support an independent bookstore, buying a gift card right now could help them immensely. A gift card will give the establishment funds right away. This could help support them now if business is slow or help them to re-open later if they’ve had to close down. 
  • Volunteer at school. 
  • Locally, we can ensure our neighbors are well-prepared, well-informed, and well-fed. Here are some ways you can support:

OUR STUDENTS & SCHOOLS

My child attends Chicago Public Schools. What is the district’s plan for instruction for the remainder of the 2021-22 school year?

  • Nearly all students returned to school five days a week at the beginning of this school year. 
  • Students, teachers, staff, and visitors to CPS school buildings need to wear masks at all times when indoors, except when eating or drinking. Masks are not required for outdoor activities such as recess. If your child has a medical exemption, please contact your school principal.
  • Chicago Public Schools allows unvaccinated employees to continue working if they take a regular coronavirus test.
  • There are no student vaccine mandates. 
  • CPS will maintain consistent procedures and community notification protocols to respond to any confirmed cases of COVID-19 in CPS schools. Also, to ensure public awareness, the district is continuing to track confirmed COVID-19 cases on the COVID-19 & Readiness Data page.
  • You can learn more about this on the CPS website here. 
  • Also, take a look at this resource page for IL families with young children from the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development. It includes information on well-being, protection for families, support for immigrants, and more.

How can I further support my child’s learning if they’re not in school, for reasons related to COVID-19 or otherwise?

Here is a list of several online resources and other tips to support families and students online: 

  • Documentaries / learning videos
  • Online learning games/camps
      • Younger kids
        • Khan Academy Kids
        • ABC Mouse
        • Starfall – free games, songs, interactive reading.
        • Backpack Sciences – This is a free video series on how to teach science without the overwhelm.
        • Breakout Edu – Online learning games for all ages and content.
        • Brainpop – Online learning modules and videos for all ages and content.
        • Check Math – Math learning modules.
        • Delta Math – Delta Math is a free website for teachers and students covering a wide range of math content from middle school through AP Calculus.
        • Arcademics Boost student engagement & fact fluency with free multiplayer educational games, math games, language arts games, and more!
      • Older kids
        • Beast Academy (math for 8-13)
        • Khan Academy (math for 6 and above, other topics like a beta ELA modules)
        • For those with kids 8+ who like Minecraft, the Connected Camps are about to start opening up. They normally only work in the summer and winter breaks.  
        • Alchemie (high school chemistry)
        • American Chemistry Society (high school chemistry)
        • Breakout Edu – Online learning games for all ages and content
        • Brainpop – Online learning modules and videos for all ages and content
        • Check Math – Match learning modules 
        • CK-12 Foundation – Each lesson has a reading passage, videos, optional review questions, and self-graded practice questions. The lessons can be assigned to Google Classroom and it puts the grade in that students got on the practice questions (students must get 10 practice questions correct to get 100%).
        • CMU CS Academy – Online computer science tool for middle- and high-schoolers 
        • Delta Math – Delta Math is a free website for teachers and students covering a wide range of math content from middle school through AP Calculus.
        • American Panorama Digital Atlas of America uses online GIS to explore and visualize data with maps.
        • Arcademics Boost student engagement & fact fluency with a free multiplayer educational games, math games, language arts games, and more!
        • Bamboo Learning – Bamboo Learning offers FREE voice-based applications (Alexa skills) that cover a range of academic subjects, including math, ELA/listening comprehension, and social studies.
        • Biology Simulations Simulations and virtual labs for biology topics including evolution, ecology, and cellular energetics.
      • Reading 
        • Progressive Phonics – free progressively sequenced books online or to print out
        • Raz Kids – interactive reading for K-5 (2 week free trial)
        • Reading Eggs (recommended by this site)
        • CommonLit
        • Epic Reading – Free online books for kids 12 and under 
        • American Reading Company  – ARC Bookshelf is a mobile application available on iOS, Android and viewable on the web, providing American Reading at Home titles specially designed for successful reading practice.
      • Spanish
        • Pocoyo
        • Oh Noah – Videos for kids, mostly in English with some Spanish vocabulary.
        • Rockalingua – Music-based Spanish learning with videos, games, worksheets, and more. 
        • Daniel Tiger – This animated preschool series features Daniel, a shy but brave 4-year-old tiger who lives in the Imagination Neighborhood. 
        • Spanish Playground – language videos in slow, clear Spanish. 
        • Spanish Cartoons – A list of fun Spanish Cartoons for kids that are also educational. These cartoons in Spanish can be found on Youtube and some on Netflix. 
        • Conjuguemos – For a variety of languages. “Use without account” option has vocabulary, grammar, listening activities and games in Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Korean, and Latin.
      • Learners who are neurodiverse 
        • Board Maker – Boardmaker is a collection of standardized picture symbols used for communication with students who are strong visual learners. This includes those with autism spectrum disorders, Downs Syndrome, etc. 
        • The Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilities has a wealth of resources focused on making online learning more accessible, engaging, and effective for learners who are neurodiverse. 
        • Common Sense Media has curated a list of the Best Special Education Applications and Websites based on recommendations by educators who work with students who are neurodiverse. Applications support the development of academic and social-emotional skills, as well as sites to assist teachers in providing differentiated learning opportunities.
        • The Council for Exceptional Children has developed COVID-19 Information for Special Educators, including a forum for members on how to adapt IEP services during school closures and a link to a resource page developed by the Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE). 
        • The State Educational Technology Directors Association offers strategies and resources on its site for ensuring that online learning supports students with Individualized Education Plans.
      • English Language Learners

I want to limit screen time where I can. What are some ideas or offline projects that kids can do at home with limited materials?

OUR WORK & HOMES

The Coronavirus has had dramatic effects on our community and families.  Many people are out of work and many businesses have closed.  If you are in need of assistance with housing, food, utilities, or unemployment, please review the list of resources below. 

I am an undocumented immigrant. Are there any resources available to me and my family?