Happy Tuesday and Happy Lunar New Year! It's the Year of the Tiger!

🌧 Today's weather: Today’s high is 42. A winter storm begins with rain this afternoon, turns to snow by this evening.

Situational awareness: Yesterday the Chicago Sun-Times officially became a nonprofit subsidiary of Chicago Public Media, which says it has raised $61 million to support the venture.

Today's newsletter is 852 words β€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Mask protest planned at Illinois schools

At least two parents at Garvy Elementary on the far Northwest Side have promoted posts for a mask protest today in Illinois schools. Screenshot from Facebook

Some Illinois parents are urging their kids to go to school without a mask today to protest Gov. J.B. Pritzker's statewide mask mandate.

Context: The protest unfolds as a Sangamon County circuit court judge prepares to rule on a lawsuit against 146 Illinois school districts β€” mostly downstate but including Chicago Public Schools β€” that challenges the mandate.

  • The suit is supported by a conservative coalition called Awake IL that has called for the defunding of the American Academy of Pediatrics for its support of masks in schools.
  • The plaintiffs include about 700 Illinois parents.

What they're saying: "My job is to protect the people who go to school and to make sure the schools remain open," Pritzker said during a press conference last week.

The intrigue: Anti-mask protests remain uncommon in Chicago but this one has at least a few supporters on the far Northwest Side.

  • Two Garvy Elementary School parents posted "Mask Off" promotions on their personal Facebook pages Monday, but did not respond to requests for comment.

The other side: "The idea of any students at my children's school unmasking as part of a protest is scary," Garvy parent Laura Davis tells Axios, noting one of her kids is too young for vaccination.

  • Davis says she's appalled to see parents using kids "as part of some sort of political agenda."

CPS comment: "We are confident that the vast majority of our school communities will continue to follow the science and our collective experience of preventing the spread of COVID-19 with universal masking."

What's next: The Sangamon County judge is expected to announce her mask ruling this week.

2. Chart of the day: mortgages and race

Data:Β Zillow analysis of data from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act; Map: Baidi Wang/Axios

Real estate marketplace Zillow crunched the most recent available data for mortgage denials by race in all 50 states.

  • 2020 mortgage denials for white applicants in Illinois stood at 9.1%, while denials to Black applicants were 20%.

3. Tips and hot links

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🚸 2021 attendance at Chicago schools was lower than in 2020. (Chalkbeat Chicago)

πŸ‘·β€β™‚οΈ A West Side industrial dumping site made famous by Operation Silver Shovel is getting a makeover thanks to the city's INVEST South/West initiative. (Block Club Chicago)

🌳 The Cook County Forest Preserve is reviewing its ambassador animal policies after coyote complaints. (Chicago Tribune)

❄️ 20+ inches of snow this week? The NWS says those models may be off. (Sun-Times)

🏈 The new Bears general manager and head coach have spoken. They are here "to take the North and never give it back." (CBS 2 Chicago)

πŸ€ The Bulls have already matched their entire 2021 win total and it's only the first of February. (NBC Sports Chicago)

New jobs to check out

⚽️ Get the ball rolling. Check out these openings from our Job Board.

  1. Administrative Coordinator at University of Chicago Institute of Politics.
  2. SVP, Experience at Mosaic.
  3. Business Development Representative at Salesforce.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a Job.

4. Readers choice: Best dumplings

Lao Peng You serves delectable dumplings filled with pork or mushroom in a savory broth. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

We recently shared our favorite Asian dumplings in anticipation of the Lunar New Year.

  • To kick off the Year of the Tiger today, we now serve some great reader dumpling recommendations.

🍲 Mario G.: "Lao Peng You in West Town are the best … they are somehow immersed in a soup and never ever disintegrate (no matter how long they sit in it)."

πŸ₯© Brianna Y.: "If you want to try authentic Northern Chinese dumplings, then Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings in Chinatown is your best bet. The lamb and dill dumplings are AMAZING."

πŸ₯ŸΒ @cubanelle on Twitter recommends the Sichuan spicy wontons at Min's Noodle House and wonton mien at Hing Kee.

🍀 @Fallingbeam on Twitter suggested Wonton Gourmet out in Des Plaines for shrimp wontons and dumplings.

5. Monica is at Cricket Hill

Monica gets ready to whiz down Cricket Hill on her family's old Russian sled. Photo courtesy of Miranda Zanca

More than 50 readers swarmed us with correct answers that Monica was, indeed, hopping around Cricket Hill last weekend.

  • Congrats to Jeremiah M. and Madeleine F. whose names we picked out of a ski cap to win some Axios swag.

History: Built on landfill near Montrose Beach, the hill was completed by the Park District in 1948 and attracted its first round of sledders after a snow storm in 1950.

As to its name, there are two interesting theories:

  • A British ball game that used to be played in the area.
  • An elephant named Cricket that may be interred under the hill.

6. Photo of the day: Randolph Street in 1961

Randolph Street at night from "Chicago Exposed." Photo courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago History Museum

πŸ‘‹ Hey, Monica here. Last year saw the release of the breathtaking "Chicago Exposed," a book showcasing 80 years of Chicago Sun-Times photography as curated by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams.

Why it matters: The book captures the life and times of our city with stark, beautiful and moving images, including the funeral of Emmett Till, the 1968 Democratic National Convention, Maxwell Street, and the toll of the current pandemic.

But for me, it offers a peek into my family history. This aerial shot of Randolph Street on Dec. 26, 1961, captures a time when my grandfather Harry Eng's Hoe Sai Gai restaurant still dominated the middle of the block.

  • The block would be razed just months later to accommodate a new structure called Daley Plaza.
  • But on this Lunar New Year's day, I'm grateful for a book that shows me where my Chinese-American family gathered for so many decades to celebrate a new year.

Our picks:

🎷 Monica is intrigued by this Friday's jazz show at Symphony Center featuring drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and her sextet along with saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa.

πŸŒ… Justin is all about Tuesday mornings.

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