Spring is upon us, and as our public health metrics continue to improve, Illinois has moved into the Bridge Phase of the Restore Illinois plan! This phase marks the final stage before full reopening and offers new guidance to keep your family safe and healthy as we transition –see below for more details and links to information about what this means and what you need to know.
We have worked hard as a community to bring us closer than ever to a return to normalcy and, if we all continue to do our part, we will reach Phase 5 next month when all capacity limitations are lifted. To keep our public health metrics moving in the right direction and enable Illinois to reopen fully, I encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible and follow appropriate public health guidelines. As of today more than 4.6 million Illinoisans are fully vaccinated.
In Springfield, we are working to pass important legislation in these final weeks. This includes the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEAACH) Act, which would make Illinois the first state in the country to require a unit of Asian American history to be taught in public schools .
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office.
Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz
Legislative affairs in Springfield have continued to progress rapidly as all legislation that passed the House of Representatives have transitioned to the Senate for consideration. Senate bills are now being passed through House committees and will soon be voted on the House floor as well.
I am happy to report my legislation is making swift headway in the Senate. State Senator Ram Villivalam has shepherded the TEAACH Act through the Senate Education committee and, if it receives a favorable vote in the Senate this week, it will return to the House for a final vote to pass. House Bill 2790, which allows Cook County public defenders to represent immigrants in removal proceedings in Cook County also moved forward in the Senate, and will be up for a vote in front of the entire body in the coming days.
Finally, I am working to pass Senate Bill 1970, an initiative of Senator Laura Fine, which allows family members helping care for relatives with mental illness to access essential medical information related to their mental health to ensure their safety and continuity of care.
The coming weeks will be very busy for the state legislature. Many critical bills are up for passage and there is still work to be done crafting a budget that will support Illinois’ return to normal following the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. As always, my priority is to address our community’s current challenges while paving the way for a stronger future.
Restore Illinois Bridge Phase has begun
Illinois entered the Bridge Phase of the Restore Illinois reopening plan on May 14th after hitting vaccination goals and maintaining low positivity and hospitalization rates. The Bridge Phase changes guidance for dining, fitness centers, offices and social gatherings, please visit the Restore Illinois website to see a full list of changes HERE.
If Illinois continues to meet the goals under this phase we could enter Phase 5, a full reopening, as soon as Friday, June 11th! So please do your part and get vaccinated!
Updated Executive Order for Mask Guidelines
Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health have announced that Illinois will begin to follow the new guidelines put forth by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention last week regarding mask wearing.
Individuals who are fully vaccinated can resume activities without wearing a mask or socially distancing unless required by local rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. Those who still have not been fully vaccinated must continue to wear masks and follow social distancing. You can read the CDC’s updated guidance for individuals who are fully vaccinated HERE.
Pfizer Vaccine approved for ages 12 to 15
The Food and Drug Administration expanded the emergency use authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to now include children aged 12 to 15 years. You can read more HERE.
The Cook County, Evanston and Skokie Departments of Public Health are now all offering vaccinations to children aged 12 to 15.
Evanston is hosting a Pfizer vaccination clinic for any aged 12 and over at the Blomquist Recreation Center on Friday, May 21st between 7:30 AM and 3:30 PM. Appointments are required, you can register HERE.
To register for future Skokie vaccine clinics visit the Village’s Vaccination Clinic website HERE.
You may continue to register for the Cook County Community Vaccination Program online HERE, or via phone at 833-308-1988.
Flick Park testing continues, The COVID-19 testing center run by Northshore Clinical Labs in partnership with the Glenview Park District at Flick Park is scheduled to remain open until July 31st. Registration is required, you can make an appointment HERE.
Illinois Rental Payment Program Open for Applications
Illinois Rental Payment Program (ILRPP)
ILRPP is an emergency rental assistance program designed to support households in Illinois that are unable to pay rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Illinois Housing Development Authority will begin accepting applications on May 17th, the deadline for housing providers to apply is June 6th.
Applicants are eligible for up to 15 months of assistance. The grant can cover the past due rent from the previous 12 months and future rental assistance for the next three months, if deemed necessary. The maximum grant amount is $25,000.
Housing providers must begin the application process, while tenants will have to submit some information to finalize the application. Proof of citizenship is not required for tenants. Application does not guarantee assistance.
More information on the program can be found HERE.
If you are in need of assistance paying utility bills and meet income guidelines, you may qualify for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
CEDA is taking applications for LIHEAP assistance through May 31st. You can read more about LIHEAP and how to apply HERE.
Evanston Township Property Assessment Appeals
Commissioner Larry Suffredin wishes to remind homeowners that property assessment appeals are open for Evanston Township through Monday, June 7th.
If you are in need of assistance you may reach out to the Commissioners office at 847-864-1209 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Non-Profit American Rescue Plan Listening Session
Commissioner Scott Britton’s office is hosting a non-profit community listening session on Zoom to discuss how American Rescue Plan Act funds can be best leveraged for non-profits. The event will be on Monday, May 24th at Noon via zoom, you can register HERE.
District Shout-out: Meghan Rice
One of our local educators, Meghan Rice, was awarded the prestigious Golden Apple award! Meghan teaches at Willard Elementary School in Evanston. This award is only given to 10 educators state wide and shows Meghan’s hard work and dedication to her students. I was lucky enough to be in attendance when Meghan received her award and saw firsthand the impact she is making in our community. You can read more about the Golden Apple HERE.
Events in the District
The Grove Interpretive Center in Glenview is now open again for free walk-in visits! Hours are Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 AM to 3 PM. You can read more about the Interpretive Center HERE.
The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center is hosting Lunch & Learn: Mandela and Anne Frank on Thursday, June 10th at Noon. The program will feature a presentation by Marlene Bethlehem, the first woman to be elected as National Chairperson of the South African Board of Deputies. Bethlehem served as chair of the Anne Frank in the World Exhibition. Bethlehem will be in conversation with her daughter-in-law, Emilia Potenza, Curator of Exhibitions & Education, Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg South Africa. Tickets are available HERE.
The Glenview Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Job Fair on Saturday May, 22nd at the Park Center from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM. It is free to attend, but registration is required, you can sign up HERE.
- I was had the opportunity to speak with several news organizations regarding my bill, the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEAACH) Act. TEAACH passed out of the Senate Education Committee on May 5th and is awaiting a full vote on the Senate floor. You can read about the bill in Reuters HERE and see me chat with Judy Hsu on ABC 7 HERE.
- Senator Ram Villivalam and I were asked to contribute to USA Today’s Uplifting America: Voices of AAPI Heritage with a joint essay on the TEAACH Act. You can read our contribution below.
- I was lucky to have Girl Scout Troop 45968 come and paint my front window in partnership with Youth Services for their 2021 Window Trek! This year’s event has 89 windows across 55 business in our community supporting mental health and the emotional wellness of children and youth. You can see a list of participating businesses HERE, I encourage you to go and see some of this amazing artwork in person!
- I attended the Grand Opening of the new Adventure Area of Wagner Farm in Glenview on May 15th. It was great to see this fantastic new addition to one of our community’s most treasured historic sites.