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Gov. J.B. Pritzker this afternoon announced that Illinois schools will remain closed for the rest of this school year to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement came on a day when Evanston reported its second highest daily count of new novel coronavirus cases.

Because of the pandemic, the science says students can’t go back to their usual routine, Pritzker said at his daily news conference.

“My priority remains unchanged,” he added, “How do we save the most lives during this very difficult time.”

Evanston reported 14 new COVID-19 cases today for a total of 213, but the city’s death toll remained unchanged at 6.

New cases statewide set a record at 1,842 and the state reported 62 additional deaths. The count of cases statewide stands at 27,575 and the death count at 1,135.

The higher case count did reflect an increase in the number of daily tests conducted to a record of 7,574, up by nearly two thousand from Thursday.

Chicago reported 767 new cases today for a total of 11,429 and an additional 13 deaths, for a total of 427.

Both Pritzker and Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said they do not believe that Illinois has yet seen its peak of COVID-19 cases, but that the state is succeeding in bending the curve and slowing the rate of increase in cases.

Pritzker urged teachers across the state to use grades during this unusual study-at-home time to “deliver feedback” but not as a tool for forcing “compliance” with the alternative learning programs.

Pritzker said he hasn’t yet decided whether to extend other aspects of the stay-at-home order that is now scheduled to expire at the end of this month.

He also said that it might be possible for schools to hold some kind of graduation ceremonies for students — perhaps in August or September — but that no decision about that had been made yet.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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