Illinois Gov. announces school closure for remainder of academic year

Rachel Hale and Megan Cablk

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced on Friday that schools will be closed for the remainder of the academic year in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Naperville North will continue remote learning until the last day of school, currently scheduled as May 22. 

The governor acknowledged that the routine of a usual school experience offers up “near limitless” possibilities for the transmission of the coronavirus during a time at which health care workers, scientists and first responders have been pushing the need to “bend the curve.”

“Many have felt that this was inevitable, but trust me when I say this was not a decision made lightly,” Pritzker said in a press conference. “My priority remains unchanged: how do we save the most lives.”

Illinois joins  27 other states and three U.S. territories that have ordered or recommended school closures, affecting over 25 million public school students. Pritzker’s announcement comes in the wake of similar decisions made by other leaders across the country, including Wisconsin’s Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday. 

For North seniors, this closure means an unforeseeable future for events like prom and graduation, which were set for May 9 and May 18, respectively. According to a press release from Superintendent Dan Bridges, District 203 will work to reschedule these events to later in the summer, conditions allowing.

Senior Eve Black recognizes that the decision to close schools was out of her control, yet she still feels regretful about the memories and experiences she will miss out on.

“There are people that I’m worried I will never get to thank or appreciate,” Black said. “I had the best high school experience, but this feels like a very discouraging end to it all.”

Student government president Sarah Rose Wittwer believes that the North community will strengthen during its response to the pandemic. 

“The doors may be closed and the building may be empty, but that does not mean that the Huskie community is gone,” Wittwer said.  “Continue to lean on your peers, teachers and counselors who all care about you and are there for you.”

Pritzker assured students that though they are living through an unprecedented time, they will “see what it looks like when the world comes together.” He urged students to focus on the positives: the teams of people that are working towards vaccines and treatments and the future of young students in guiding the state forward. 

“Let me be the first to say, I can’t wait to see all that you will accomplish,” Pritzker said.