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It’s another back-to-school Monday for CPS

Children walk to George B. Armstrong International Studies Elementary School as students return to in-person learning at the Rogers Park neighborhood school on the North Side, Monday morning, March 1, 2021.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times  

Nicole Ramirez thought she’d be able to handle it, but then she saw staff at Walt Disney Magnet School swipe her 7-year-old daughter’s forehead with a thermometer.

And Ramirez started to cry.

“It’s something about everything we’ve gone through this year. Dropping her off has been really emotional for me,” said Ramirez, 40, still teary-eyed as she talked Monday morning.

More than 37,000 K-5 students are due to return Monday, with another 18,500 in sixth to eighth grade set to return next week. That’s in addition to the 5,000 pre-kindergarten and special education cluster program students who have been in classrooms already.

Disney Principal Paul Riskus stood outside the North Side school, greeting parents — many of whom were, perhaps not surprisingly, a little confused about which entrance to use at the sprawling concrete-and-steel campus.

“We’re ready. We’ve been getting ready since July,” Riskus said. “There have definitely been challenges, but I’m really excited about today. We feel the building is safe and we’re really just excited about seeing the kids.”

Keep reading Stefano Esposito’s story here.


9:39 a.m. Near West Side’s profit lure outlasts the pandemic’s lull

Wander the sidewalks of the Near West Side, and it’s easy to get an eerie sensation. It’s almost like a “Twilight Zone” episode about a place with evidence of human habitation right there, maybe just around the corner, and yet you don’t see anybody.

It’s just the mind playing tricks, after all. Whatever name applies — West Loop, Fulton Market, West Town — the region was Chicago’s busiest place for development and an extension of downtown’s commercial might.

It’s hushed now, as people are still staying out of offices. With capacity limits in place, restaurants are groggily stirring to life, but there is still less reason than before to be out and about, even with the weather easing up.

Look closer, though, at the signs of ongoing investment, and the neighborhood gives off a different vibe. Having recoiled in the pandemic, parts look ready to spring back to business.

Read David Roeder’s latest Chicago Enterprise column here.

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Analysis & commentary

8:28 a.m. Pandemic makes obvious another great health threat to African Americans: obesity

As COVID-19 descended on us last March, the Fat Nag watched with dread and hope.

Dread, knowing this 21st-century plague would hit Black folks hardest. When it comes to health disparities, we always weigh in on the wrong side of the scale.

And as the Fat Nag always reminds, there is another plague that affects us most — our everlasting battle with obesity.

I harbored hope, however, the pandemic would usher in a new awareness that the fat is killing us.

For years, as the self-proclaimed Fat Nag, I have been reminding, railing and begging Black folks to get the fat out.

Read Laura Washington’s full column here.

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