Our first episode of 'The B-Side,' the push for booster requirements at DePaul, a return to in-person classes for CPS
and vaccines required for Wintrust Arena events
Welcome back to ‘In the Loop’! We’ve got a special one for you today — not only do we have the return of our normal newsletter content, but also the first episode of our new podcast series, The B-Side. Woo!
The B-Side will be released twice a month, featuring a new story each episode. For the month of January, we’ll be teasing out episodes every other week, free to our newsletter subscribers. But beginning February 7, our loyal readers will need to subscribe to our new paid tier to access the podcast and other exclusive content. If you want to read more about our latest newsroom endeavor, be sure to check out last week’s newsletter.
That’s all the housekeeping we have for today! We don’t want to keep you waiting any longer, so let’s jump right in.
Our Pilot Episode of The B-Side
By Claire Malon with Lara Diaz
Our pilot episode of The B-Side is a story from contributing writer Lara Diaz. Published in the fall of 2021, “Next Stop, Van Buren,” is a powerful narrative essay about community, identity and belonging.
Diaz, who was born and raised on the Southeast Side of Chicago, describes how she was forced to grapple with her identity as a Mexican American while attending predominantly white schools on the North Side. Using her commute on the Metra Electric train as a metaphor, Diaz seeks to show how the deeply rooted love and understanding of where we come acts as a guide to interpreting the world around us and our place in it.
Story by Lara Diaz
Produced and recorded by Claire Malon
DePaul Students, Faculty Push for Booster Requirement
By Grace Del Vecchio, Cam Rodriguez and Claire Malon
While many universities in the Chicagoland area have implemented booster mandates for students, staff and faculty, including the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, University of Illinois system, Loyola University and Columbia College, DePaul’s administration has yet to follow suit — even as student and faculty bodies push for a campus-wide booster mandate and COVID cases spike on campus.
As students return to dorms and faculty and staff return to offices, COVID-19 is on the rise at DePaul. Since the university administratively reopened on January 3, 33 cases have been reported through the COVID-19 dashboard. This includes four cases retroactively added the week leading up to the start of the quarter, in addition to 25 cases during the first week of classes and four cases since Saturday.
University spokesperson Mary Hansen told the DePaulia that the university was committed to in-person learning. “We are hopeful that a cautious start to Winter Quarter will allow us to sustain a robust college experience the remainder of the year,” she said.
On Thursday, the DePaul’s Student Government Association passed a resolution urging the administration to create a booster mandate and require that the updated vaccination status be submitted by March 4. The resolution cites diminished vaccine efficacy, widespread vaccine availability within Cook County and the upholding of Vincentian values by prioritizing the health and safety of the DePaul community.
Faculty and staff are also pushing a resolution for a COVID-19 booster requirement. DePaul Health Chair Jay Baglia wrote a proposal for a mandate that would require all students, faculty and staff to get their booster shots by Spring Break. Baglia’s proposal will be presented at an upcoming Faculty Council meeting this Wednesday.
The draft proposal, which was written by Baglia with input from the DePaul Health subcommittee of the Faculty Council, outlines similar reasoning as the one from Student Government Association. It also cites the increased efficacy of the booster shot compared to those who did not receive the booster.
“Booster shots are an essential and critical component of a comprehensive public health strategy to prevent the threat of COVID-19 and maintain a safe learning environment,” reads the Faculty Council proposal.
“I think at the end of the day, we're all interested in going and getting back to the classroom, but we want to be back in the classroom, when we're sure that the most could possibly be done,” he said.
Baglia also appealed to DePaul’s Vincentian and community values.
“DePaul University is a clearly defined community through which we have a clear responsibility to one another,” he states in the proposal. “As a private metropolitan institution that values science, social justice, and the collective good we must send a clear message to our entire community that a booster shot is not just a good idea but necessary to maintain our collective health in the spirit of Take Care, DePaul.”
Aside from a vaccine booster, Baglia feels the university needs better communication to the entire community regarding COVID-19 mitigation plans.
Baglia says that while there may be legal aspects to timing a return to in-person learning or a vaccine mandate, the process could still be shared with the community. “Right now, we are working through some of the logistical and legal aspects of returning to campus, or a vaccine mandate, but to say nothing is doing the opposite of ensuring trust. It's creating doubt.”
By Kate Linderman
Proof of vaccination required at Wintrust Arena
In accordance with Chicago’s vaccine requirement, all fans ages five and older are required to show proof of vaccination to enter the Wintrust Arena. All fans over the age of 16 will also have to show identification that matches their vaccination card. Digital, photocopies and physical vaccination cards are accepted.
The last day to drop classes with no penalty is January 16, but classes cannot be added as of January 9 according to the academic calendar.
Classes return in person on Tuesday, January 18. The university is closed on Monday, January 17 for Martin Luther King Day.
On-campus covid testing and reporting protocol
As students, faculty and staff travel back to campus, the university recommends COVID-19 testing to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Free, on-campus PCR testing is currently provided at both Lincoln Park and Loop campuses for students, faculty and staff. Times and registration instructions can be found on DePaul’s COVID-19 website.
As a reminder, all positive COVID-19 tests should be reported to the university.
Lastly, here is your weekend sports update (January 7 to 9)
The women’s basketball team beat Providence 98-77 on Friday
The men’s basketball team lost to Villanova 79-64 on Saturday
By Grace Vaughn
CPS Classes Canceled Another Day, but CTU Votes to End Labor Action — Chicago Public Schools canceled classes for the fourth day in a row after district and union officials failed to come to an agreement over in-person learning this weekend. However, a consensus was reached tonight as the Chicago Teachers Union voted to approve a deal with the city. Students will return to in-person learning on Wednesday, the staff of Block Club Chicago reports.
Bears Fire Head Coach and General Manager — After another loss on Sunday night, head coach Matt Nagy was fired from the Bears this morning. He spent the past four seasons with the team, ending this season with a 6-11 record. General manager Ryan Pace was also let go after working with the Bears for the past six seasons. The team's chairman, George McCaskey, made it clear in his press conference that the search for new hires would begin immediately. Jessica D’Onofrio of ABC7 Chicago has the story.
Cook County Jail Faced with COVID-19 Outbreak — The number of COVID-19 cases among detainees reached the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic at Cook County Jail. According to data, 430 people detained at the jail and 453 staff members have tested positive. The virus has continued to spread at the facility even with testing and vaccines readily available. Read more from Pascal Sabino of Block Club Chicago.
Lightfoot Appoints New Head of Civilian Police Oversight Panel— The city's Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability earned their first executive director today. Adam Gross, appointed by Mayor Lightfoot, is a longtime police reform advocate who has spent decades fighting for structural reform. He will serve as a liaison between the police department and the board. Manny Ramos of the Chicago Sun-Times has the details.
By Elly Boes
U.S. to Mobilize Rapid Tests Amid Shortages — Over the weekend, White House officials confirmed President Joe Biden’s plan to fund free at-home COVID-19 rapid tests. Finalizing its manufacturing and distribution timeline, the federal government pledged to provide 500 million such tests last month. According to NBC’s Shannon Pettypiece, rapid tests will be shipped via the United States Postal Service (USPS) likely later this month. However, an ABC article noted the process will begin in late January and continue in the coming months. To order the tests, a new government website is underway but not all of the half billion rapid tests will be available to order via USPS delivery directly. Amid testing shortages across the country, rapid tests will also be purchased by pharmacies and grocery stores as more contracts are expected to be approved.
January 6: A Year after the Capitol Riots — Last Thursday was the one-year anniversary of the January 6 Capitol insurrection during which far-right organizations and Trump supporters broke into the Senate chamber and five people died. While hundreds of charges have been filed since, the “Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol” recently said committee members expect to ask former Vice President Mike Pence to appear — Claudia Grisales of NPR has more on this story.
U.S Greenhouse Gas Reports Increase in 2021 — In the new year, a recent analysis reported a 6.2 percent increase in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions between 2020 and 2021. Today, a Washington Post article highlighted the study published by independent research firm Rhodium Group which found emissions still remain below pre-pandemic levels from 2019.
New York City Fire in Bronx Apartment Building — Yesterday, The New York Times, among several outlets, reported a deadly apartment fire that killed 19 people — including nine children — and injured dozens of Bronx residents. According to The Times, the fire is still under investigation, but fire marshals believe the likely cause to be a space heater in one of the building’s 120 units.
Witness in Kyle Rittenhouse Trial Accepts Plea Deal — Dominick Black who provided Kyle Rittenhouse with an assault rifle accepted a plea deal Saturday, according to The Associated Press and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Black was charged with two felony counts last November after he bought Rittenhouse the gun used to kill two people and wound another in August of 2020. The charges were reduced following Black’s “no contest” plea last week; he will pay $2,000 in fines but won’t serve any jail time.
Hey, Check This Out!
With Featured Columnist Emily Soto
Thanks for coming back and joining me, everyone! I hope you’re as excited as I am to see what 2022 will bring us in media, entertainment and things to do!
But before we do that, I want to highlight one of my favorite films that came from the end of 2021.
Over the holidays, the sequel to the animated musical, Sing, was released. Naturally titled, Sing 2, the film begins right where we left off. The upbeat koala and theater director, Buster Moon, voiced by Matthew McConaughey, and his cast of singers have been living out their dream of performing sold out shows at their home town theater. They are excited when they finally have the chance to be reviewed by a major critic and take their shot at going mainstream. But when the review doesn’t go as planned, the team begins to doubt if they are really good enough.
In addition to this, they have to learn how to navigate the industry and face their fears, all while figuring out where they belong in this new world.
The film is a classic underdog story that reminds you how to pick yourself up when others don’t believe in you but also to surround yourself with those who do support you. You just might find yourself cheering on the characters whenever they are feeling a bit down.
Finally, as far as sequels go, Sing 2 delivered a film that lived up to the hype. So much detail was added to the story — from costuming to choreography, you almost forget that the film is animated. Plus, this talented cast includes the voices of many returning stars like Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Tori Kelly and Taron Egerton as well as some new faces like Pharrell Williams, Halsey, Letitia Wright and so many more. But to top off this great cast, an appearance from Bono really rounds out the depth of talent we hear in this film. The tracklist includes Pop and Rock hits, smooth R&B and EDM beats that will make you want to sing along as you watch.
We didn’t have enough room for our resources list today, as we had to include our new podcast in the newsletter. For the complete list, you can check out past issues of our newsletter or click the link here.
That’s it for today! We hope you enjoyed the pilot episode of our new podcast series, The B-Side. We’ll be off next week for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but we’ll be back on January 24 with more news, updates and episode number two. Until then, take care!
The 14 East Newsletter Team