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Rep. Rodney Davis tests positive for COVID-19

Congressman Rodney Davis (IL-13) has announced he has tested positive for COVID-19. Here's the tweet, we genuinely wish him a safe and fast recovery:

Top image from Rodney Davis' website.

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Unit 4 Schools announces distance learning through first quarter of fall semester

From the press release:

STATEMENT FROM DR. SUSAN ZOLA

"The health, wellness, and safety of our Unit 4 Community is one of our top priorities, especially now.  As we continue to receive feedback, we’ve made the difficult decision to engage in Distance Learning through the first quarter of the 2020–21 school year.

"We fully recognize that this may be distressing news for many students and families but we're here to provide support and guidance as we also learn to adapt to this new learning framework.

"During this Distance Learning period, we’ll continue to assess the state of COVID-19. By the end of September, we’ll make another decision whether to continue Distance Learning when the second quarter begins on October 19th or begin to transition to In-Person Learning.

"We understand that the next several weeks will feel overwhelming. We also must acknowledge that our most vulnerable students will need us to support equitable access to Distance Learning.  Addressing these inequities is critical, and we're committed to ensuring access for all students.

"As our re-entry plan is implemented, then develops into an everyday routine, we will face difficult challenges that require innovative problem solving and agile leadership. Through all of it, we will keep our Unit 4 community informed.  Because, above all, we’re powerfully committed to providing the guidance, knowledge, skills—and safety—for all students to succeed."

-Dr. Susan Zola, Superintendent, Champaign Unit 4 Schools

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Krannert Center cancels public, in-person performances for Fall 2020

Krannert Center for the Performing Arts has announced the cancelation of all of their in-person, public performances for this fall. They will assess what spring looks like later this fall, and make the determination one way or the next based on the pandemic and a variety of other factors. In case you are curious what KCPA had lined up, you can check out the season booklet which is linked in the press release below.

From the press release:

KRANNERT CENTER CANCELS FALL, IN-PERSON PERFORMANCES

Urbana, IL—In the midst of the global pandemic and ongoing social justice issues, Krannert Center reaffirms its commitment to growth in inclusive, equitable practices and programming and remains steadfast in its support for the safety and well-being of artists, patrons, staff, faculty, students, and the community. In keeping with public safety guidelines and with a dedication to the University of Illinois’ academic mission, Krannert Center has made the difficult decision to cancel all public, in-person performances at the Center for fall 2020. 

The decision has been made in close conversation with resident academic colleagues from the University of Illinois School of Music, Lyric Theatre @ Illinois, Dance at Illinois, and Illinois Theatre, as well as colleagues from Sinfonia da Camera, the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra, PYGMALION, and the Champaign Urbana Ballet and includes the programming scheduled as part of the Krannert Center Youth Series. This course of action will allow the Center to offer its theatres to provide additional space and time for safer, physically distanced university classes this fall in accordance with campus guidelines and the State of Illinois Phase 4 Reopening Plan. 

Determinations about spring 2021 programming will be made later this fall, and those performances are not on sale at this time. As a means of honoring the artistry that had been planned for this fall, Krannert Center is sharing a digital copy of the intended season book. The Krannert Center mission will continue to be enacted through public engagement, teaching, educational support, and online programming that will be announced in the coming weeks as a way for patrons to continue their connection to artists, artistry, and one another. 

Patrons are encouraged to visit KrannertCenter.com, sign up for the Center’s email list, and follow Krannert Center on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for future announcements. A “frequently asked questions” document is available online. Patrons can also contact the Krannert Center Ticket Office at 217.333.6280 or kran-tix@illinois.edu. Those wishing to support Krannert Center are encouraged to visit KrannertCenter.com/Give.

Top image by Anna Longworth.

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Kofi Cockburn returning to Illinois basketball for sophomore season

And now, for SPlog #2 of the day surrounding Illinois basketball. Big man Kofi Cockburn will also return next year after testing the NBA Draft waters. This announcement comes just on the tail of fellow Illinois basketball teammate Ayo Dosunmu announced he would return for his junior season.

Check out Cockburn's tweet announcing this:

Top image from FightingIlliniBasketball.com.

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The Idea Store is offering up free supplies to Black led organizations

The Idea Store reminds us we why love them. If you want to continue to support them, check out their online store. They are also taking donations through appointments.

Dear friends,

You may have noticed our silence the last few months. Like many of you, we’ve been grieving and angry over the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Richie Turner, Kiwane Carrington, and hundreds of other Black people with dreams, ideas, and people who loved them.

In breaking this silence, we hope that anyone and everyone hears us when we say, from the top of our lungs, ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER. Every single one.

There is no statement sufficient to stand in opposition to 400 years of systemic racism.

When we say Black Lives Matter, what you really deserve to know is:

What are we going to do moving forward?

To begin, we would like to offer supplies to any Black-led organization in the community for free. Do you need poster boards, paper for flyers, fabric, crayons, markers, chalk? Message us and let us know. We’ll do our best to supply you.

We are committed to making a sustained effort toward anti-racism here at the Idea Store, and committed to educating ourselves, listening to Black voices, acting accordingly, and being accountable for our actions.

Black Artists Matter. Black Environmentalists Matter. Black Teachers Matter. Black Ideas Matter. Black Lives Matter.

Love and solidarity,
The Idea Store

Photo by Julie McClure.

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Campustown bars to close this weekend due to COVID-19 concerns and Greek Reunion

Per the City of Champaign's announcement, bars in Campustown have voluntarily agreed to close this weekend due to concerns of Greek Reunion. We wrote about this earlier this week, urging action surrounding this situation.

Kam's, Second Chance, Red Lion, Joe's, and Brother's will be closed all weekend:

Top image from City of Champaign's tweet.

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Milo Eifler on returning this fall: Schools “are showing blatant disregard for student athletes”

University of Illinois linebacker Milo Eifler has stepped out to say something about returning to the playing field (and campus) this fall amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Eifler took to Twitter to state his belief that "schools around the country are showing blatant disregard for student athletes", as returning to the playing field will cause more infections and death.  Just last week, we wrote about how returning to on-campus instruction in the fall is a mistake.

See the tweets below, and head over to the thread to see responses from other players as well:

UPDATE: It apperas Elfie took down the second tweet, but here's a screenshot:

Top photo from Fighting Illini Football's website.

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I’m hungry for a cheesecake jar from Sugga Shaii Sweets

Have you heard of a cheesecake cup? I was today years old when I heard of a cheesecake cup. Now, I want one from Sugga Shaii Sweets. Take a look at her site and look at all the delicious options: brownies, cupcakes, cookies, chocolate covered Oreos, Sugga cake jars, and more.

Sugga Shaii Sweets is at the Champaign Farmers' Market on Tuesdays.

Photo from Sugga Shaii Sweets Facebook page.

Here's a little bit more about Sugga Shaii Sweets and the pastry chef behind the sweet treats:

My name is Shaii Smith, and I am originally from Memphis, Tennessee. In 2018, I officially start Sugga Shaii Sweets offering my Southern-style sweets and seasonal delights that are simply scrumptious. At Sugga Shaii Sweets, we sell milk chocolate turtles, white chocolate turtles, and a variety of cupcake jars. We are able to bake goods for specific dietary restrictions including gluten free and sugar free alternatives.

 

Top image from Sugga Shaii Sweets website.

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17th Street BBQ sauces are now at Cheese & Crackers

Cheese & Crackers is now offering 17th Street BBQ sauces. What's 17th Street BBQ? It's a nationally acclaimed barbecue restaurant in Murphysboro, Illinois owned by champion pitmaster Mike Mills.

In the world of barbecue, champion pitmaster Mike Mills is affectionately known as “The Legend.” He presides over the pits at his two nationally acclaimed 17th Street Barbecue barbecue restaurants in Southern Illinois.

In the early 1990s, he was co-captain of the Apple City Barbecue team, one of the most celebrated teams ever on the circuit. He is a four-time World Champion and three-time Grand World Champion at Memphis in May, otherwise known as the Super Bowl of Swine. He is also the 1992 Grand Champion of the Jack Daniel’s World Invitational Barbecue Cooking Contest and he won the Jack Daniel’s Sauce Contest that year as well.

Mike is the barbecue guru at and a partner in Blue Smoke restaurant in New York City. He was a founding partner in Memphis Championship Barbecue in Las Vegas. His book, Peace, Love, and Barbecue was nominated for a 2006 James Beard Foundation award and received the 2006 National Barbecue Association Award of Excellence. In October 2008 he was honored with the Pioneer of Barbecue award at the Jack Daniel’s World Invitational Barbecue Cooking Contest. Mike was inducted into the Barbecue Hall of Fame in 2010.

Cheese & Crackers
1715 W Kirby Ave
Champaign
T - Su 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
M 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Top image from Cheese & Cracker's Fish List email.

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Common Ground’s Board of Directors issue statement of solidarity

From the email blast:
 
FROM THE BOARD
 
The Board of Directors of Common Ground Food Co-op stands in solidarity with those in our community and across the US and the world who are protesting the recent killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks, and calling for an end to police violence against Black people. We stand with them in opposing structural racism and white supremacy throughout our society, and this means taking a hard look at ourselves and the co-op we care so much about.
 
The cooperative movement is often said to have begun in 1844 with the Rochdale Pioneers, a group of English mill workers who came together to provide better-quality food for themselves and their families at prices they could afford. Black-owned cooperatives, starting with mutual aid societies in the 19th century which evolved into food co-ops, credit unions, and agricultural co-ops in the 20th, have a long history in this country. Black leaders and activists like W.E.B. DuBois, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Ella Baker consistently advocated for co-operation to help Black Americans capture the fruits of their labor and build wealth in the teeth of vicious economic exploitation throughout the United States. We know of two attempts to establish Black-owned grocery co-ops on North First Street, one in the early 20th century and one in the 1960s, as Champaign's Black citizens sought tools to fight back against the segregation in the North End that inflicts economic, political and physical damage on them to this very day. Unfortunately, we have only bits and pieces of what was once here - a brief article in the Urbana Courier, a listing in a directory. Common Ground is the only consumer co-operative in Champaign County, but we were certainly not the first, and we need to learn more about our history.
 
Common Ground Food Co-op was established in 1974 out of a desire for a better, more equitable, and healthier food system. Seeking an alternative to buying from multinational food corporations, our founders chose to organize Common Ground as a cooperative, where people unite together to meet their common needs through a jointly-owned and democratically controlled enterprise. However, our commitment to local food production and ethical business practices does not exempt us from the reality of segregation in this society. It is hard for a business to pursue multiple Ends at once, but we have to learn how to actively break down the barriers of race and class.
 
Why is our co-op, like many food co-ops across the country, so white? On our doors we say “Everyone welcome,” but are we really doing all we can--as owners, as board directors, as employers--to ensure that that’s the case? How can we make sure everyone in our community has access to healthy, sustainably produced food? We pride ourselves on being a community grocery store, but too many of our Black neighbors don’t think of this as their store.
 
Our board is committing itself to making our co-op more racially inclusive. We invite you to join with us in doing the following:
 
Learning about anti-racism: http://antiracismforbeginners.com/
 
Supporting Black businesses in our community: http://buyblackchambana.com/business-directory/
 
Taking action and donating: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/

Sincerely,

Common Ground Board of Directors
board@commonground.coop

Top image by Megan Flowers.

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Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus tweets about new HUM album

Stephen Malkmus, mastermind of the legendary indie rock outfit Pavement, had a listen to the new HUM record Inlet, which was surprise-released yesterday. He keeps his thoughts short and sweet, and its awesome to see the record making its rounds in the music world:

Top image from Twitter

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U of I announces fall semester plans for “modified on-campus instruction”

From the U of I Massmail:

Modified on-campus instruction for Fall 2020 semester
June 18, 2020 3:14 PM

Dear Faculty, Students and Staff,

As you know, our university leadership has been consulting with faculty, staff, students, the Academic Senate, community members and with local and state health officials to evaluate our options for delivery of Fall 2020 instruction.

All faculty, staff and students will be receiving more detailed information this week about what we know right now. We have posted a new list of some frequently asked questions with answers on the COVID-19 website.

As a public land-grant university, it is our obligation to provide accessible and equitable research, creative expression and educational experiences for people from across the state and around the globe. We come together here to challenge and debate the known, confront and conquer the unknown, advance the frontier of knowledge and improve the human condition. Our success hinges upon the vibrant learning communities that constitute the bedrock of residential universities like ours. All of us, together, share in all the good that our university makes possible. Its classrooms, libraries, rare book and manuscript collections, laboratories, studios, research institutes, performing arts spaces, gathering spaces and museums enable and inspire the face-to-face engagement and debate. This fosters the free and daring inquiry and the rich empathy and candor our world needs to deal with its current challenges and to change and to progress beyond them. The events of the past months make the importance for such conversations, engagement and experiences even more urgent.

The university is committed to doing all we can to maximize the safety of all members of our community. A commitment to the health and safety of our students, staff and faculty will be foundational to any decisions we make and all actions that we take. That is a commitment that also extends to the broader Urbana-Champaign community that supports us.

The university has been working diligently on ways to continue to fulfill our missions as we look to the Fall 2020 semester. In conjunction with public health officials, we have worked with our own experts, faculty and staff to develop plans for fall that prioritize health and safety and allow us to resume some level of in-person instruction and educational activity. Our working groups continue to make considerable progress on all fronts. Earlier this month, the COVID-19 Academics Affairs Team shared their report with the most likely scenarios and recommendations for Fall 2020 instruction. The feedback to the report was robust, diverse and candid. It provided the team with additional things to consider and concerns to address.

Based upon these ongoing efforts, and with considerable thought and broad consultation, we have decided that we will resume on-campus instruction for the Fall 2020 semester in a manner modified to address the ongoing pandemic concerns. This semester will consist of a blend of in-person and remote instruction. Along with a successful transition of our region of Illinois into Phase IV of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan, resuming on-campus instruction is predicated upon our ability to provide adequate COVID-19 testing for our entire community of faculty, staff and students, coupled with a comprehensive plan that looks after the vulnerable and aims at mitigating and containing any outbreaks. The COVID-19 SHIELD Team is advancing this plan, and they will be providing specific information about the plan in the weeks ahead.

In order for this return to in-person instruction to succeed, everyone in our university community will be required to follow guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD). This includes practicing social distancing, wearing face coverings (for those who are able), checking symptoms and adequate hygiene such as frequent handwashing and using hand sanitizer.

We cannot overstate that our own personal behavior will determine in a large part our access to all the good that our campus offers. It is up to each of us to take care of one another. In the weeks ahead, as we prepare to resume on-campus operations in the fall, we count on the unfaltering vigilance of everyone in our community. We still have a lot of work to do to get ready.

Thank you for your patience and thank you in advance for doing your part to keep everyone in our university community safe. We will continue to keep you informed about progression of our plans to reopen our campus in a safe manner.

Sincerely,

Robert J. Jones
Chancellor

Andreas C. Cangellaris
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost

From the U of I System Massmail:

 
Fall Semester Plans
June 18, 2020 2:57 PM
 
Dear students, faculty and staff:
 
We are very pleased to announce that on-campus educational activities will resume this fall at the University of Illinois System’s three universities, with a hybrid mixture of in-person and online classes. Of course, our collective decision assumes that Illinois stays on track to meet Phase 4 requirements established by Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan that allow reopening of classrooms.
 
Plans to restore in-person instruction were developed through weeks of exhaustive review that brought together literally hundreds of key stakeholders and considered every available option, from a full return to traditional instruction to remaining fully online.
 
Throughout, this work was guided by two, intertwined core principles – promoting the safety of our campus communities while maintaining the academic excellence that is synonymous with our best-in-class universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. In the process, faculty, staff, administrative leaders and students drew upon the insights of our own healthcare and education experts, as well as best practices of peer institutions and guidance from state and local health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Illinois Board of Higher Education.
 
The result is a thoughtful, science-based approach that will bring our universities back to life, with a campus experience that will look somewhat different. But the life-changing benefits will be the same – academic programs that lift students to the careers of their dreams, research that drives discovery and progress, and a healthcare enterprise that provides both patient care and innovation.
 
A system-wide coordination committee assisted groups at each of the three universities that have worked over the past few weeks to develop detailed plans for reopening. Each university will be providing details of their unique, campus-based plans within the next few weeks, including starting dates and calendars for their fall semesters. But here is a summary of elements that will be common to all:
 
Instruction 
  • Classes will be a mixture of in-person and remote instruction to provide the physical distancing that inhibits spread of the virus.
  • In-person courses and classroom schedules will be adjusted appropriately to ensure physical distancing and safer traffic flow.
  • Accommodations will be made where possible for students and faculty in vulnerable and at-risk groups, and for students who cannot come to campus due to travel restrictions or other considerations.
  • Classrooms will be cleaned and disinfected daily. Reusable, washable masks will be provided to all students and required in all classrooms, and hand sanitizer will be widely available in all buildings.
  • Training for faculty and instructors is being provided over the summer to sustain high-quality online and distance instruction with state-of-the-art technologies and virtual modalities.
University housing/dining 
  • Residence hall occupancy will be limited to two students per room.
  • Outside visitors will not be allowed in residence halls.
  • Quarantine areas will be created to accommodate students who test positive for COVID-19 or display symptoms.
  • Dining halls will largely provide packaged meals for carryout, and in-person dining will be limited.
  • Common areas will be cleaned and disinfected regularly, and hand sanitizer will be available.
  • Use of these common areas will be limited, and physical distancing will be observed.

Campus life

  • The size of gatherings will be based on standards under the state reopening guidelines in force this fall and beyond.
  • Use of auxiliary facilities such as recreational centers will be limited to preserve safety.
  • Outside visitors to campus will be asked to follow physical distancing and wear masks in public places.
Research 
  • Research activities will continue a ramp-up that began over the summer.
  • As in classrooms, masks will be required and other safety measures will be followed.
  • Research will continue to support treatments, vaccines and other measures related to COVID-19.
Employees 
  • Most faculty and staff will continue a phased-in return to work that began in June and will be completed by the start of the fall semester, though some will continue to work from home to reduce campus density.
  • Flexible work-from-home guidelines will be developed for the benefit of vulnerable employees and those with family-related considerations. Work areas will be cleaned regularly, and hand sanitizer will be provided.
  • Masks will be required in publicly shared spaces and reusable masks will be provided to all employees.
  • We will continue engagement with our labor unions to discuss the impact of these plans.
Testing and notification
 
  • Our scientists are piloting cutting-edge testing procedures for the COVID-19 virus that are accurate, cost-effective and scalable to the whole university community and provide same-day results.
  • We are partnering closely with local public health authorities to notify individuals at risk for infection and mitigate spread, through a combination of manual and rapid app-based approaches.
  • All app-based software will protect individual privacy so that positive test results are shared only with the user, and no location data will be required, collected or shared with third parties.
  • Local public health departments will be provided test results based on required local, state and federal regulations.

General safety

  • Training will be required for all students and employees to ensure compliance with physical distancing and other COVID-related safety measures.
  • Hand sanitizer or disposable wipes will be available at building entrances, elevator lobbies and in common and high-traffic areas.
  • High-touch surfaces such as door handles and elevator buttons will be disinfected multiple times daily.
  • Flu shots will be strongly encouraged for all students, faculty and staff to lessen the possibility of dual outbreaks when traditional flu season begins.
The pandemic is still evolving, so our plans will be flexible and nimble. We will monitor campus safety and the latest guidance on the virus, and will adjust plans as needed to protect the well-being of our students, faculty, staff and the communities we call home.
 
Our plans for fall could not have been developed without you, and we are deeply grateful to everyone who shared their time and talents to guide us. And we know that you will now help lead the way again, modeling the safety protocols that are essential to make our plans a success.
 
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a test unlike any in our 150-year history. But thanks to your commitment and creativity, we have done more than just answer challenges to our operations. You are supporting the leading-edge medical treatments and scholarship that are helping the state manage the crisis and move beyond it. You are helping show the life-changing power of our universities – in real-time – that will write new chapters in our long legacy of excellence.
 
Be safe, enjoy your summer and we look forward to seeing you in the fall.
 
Sincerely, Tim Killeen, President
Barb Wilson, Executive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Robert J. Jones, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Michael D. Amiridis, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Chicago
Susan J. Koch, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Springfield
Karen M. Whitney, Interim Chancellor, University of Illinois at Springfield

Top image by Anna Longworth.