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Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Memorial Day weekend with COVID-19 in the Chicago area

Chicago is on pace to cautiously reopen and ease restrictions on certain activities in “early June,” with outdoor dining at restaurants, barbershops, non-lakefront park buildings and libraries slated to resume limited business, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Friday. But the mayor declined to announce specific rules for industries that might be allowed to reopen, saying she would do so next week.

Meanwhile, many Memorial Day weekend activities have been canceled, altered or postponed because of the coronavirus. Chicago’s lakefront-adjacent public spaces, The 606 trail and other swaths of parks are shut down, while the Cook County Forest Preserves are closed for picnics, barbecues and other gatherings. Still, some observances are being converted to virtual celebrations in order to continue decadeslong traditions while staying safe.

Here’s what’s happening Memorial Day weekend with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:

5 a.m.: As need for food assistance soars, schools expand from meal pickup to grocery delivery: ‘We are seeing more demand every day.’

With one out of three students in suburban High School District 211 qualifying for free or reduced lunch, administrator Stacy Lenihan said the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic has been especially devastating for families who were struggling even when the economy was healthy.

But as Lenihan orchestrated a recent distribution of 5,000 bags of groceries for families in the Palatine-based district, she realized a growing number of recipients who have come to count on the weekly curbside delivery likely never imagined they would be needing such assistance.

“We’re now well over our free and reduced numbers. ... We’re hearing from our students’ families who were fully employed, and now, both mom and dad are out of a job, and having trouble getting by week to week,” Lenihan said, adding: “I’ve gotten multiple letters and cards, and people are pulling up in cars with signs saying, ‘Thank you so much, District 211,’ which is incredible, and very emotional.”

Following the statewide school shutdown in mid-March, officials from school districts across the Chicago area wasted no time in launching meal delivery programs to ensure that students from low-income families would still have access to breakfast and lunch.

Two months later, those fledgling efforts have grown to include expansive school district-based grocery distribution programs, the majority of which are funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service.

Read the full story here. — Karen Ann Cullotta

Connecting every young person in Chicago to a meaningful opportunity this summer. That’s the immediate goal of the city’s “My Chi. My Future.” initiative, which launches Saturday.

With the school year almost at an end, and the city of Chicago on pace to cautiously begin reopening in June, young people are looking for ways to stay engaged during the summer months. That’s why first lady Amy Eshleman and Deputy Mayor for Education and Human Services Dr. Sybil Madison are launching the My Chi. My Future. initiative — Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s youth-focused campaign that hopes to connect young people with opportunities geared toward their interests, and mentorship that will help them on the path to success.

“Some communities don’t have as many of these opportunities as others, or don’t have as rich a number of opportunities as other communities. There are communities in which young people and their families are afraid — there are physical and emotional barriers in just moving around,” Madison said. And then there’s just barriers in terms of information. A big part of this effort is putting all these opportunities in one place, so it’s easier for caring adults to have the information that youth needs to connect to these opportunities."

Work on the site began last year. Lightfoot and Eshleman are announcing the launch of the “My Chi. My Future.” social media campaign during a virtual youth summit Saturday. The website was to go live the same day. Read more here. — Darcel Rockett

Here are five things that happened Friday that you need to know:

Here are five things that happened Thursday that you need to know:

Here are five things that happened Wednesday that you need to know:

Here are five things that happened Tuesday that you need to know:

Here are five things that happened Monday that you need to know:

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