Axios Chicago

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Happy Monday! It's both National Peanut Butter Day and National Compliment Day. So maybe compliment someone's peanut butter?

  • Today's weather: The snow should clear out by the afternoon. High of 26.

Today's newsletter is 860 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: CPS COVID data explained

Illustration of magnets on a school locker in the shape of a contact tracing chart.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

CPS officials did not respond to allegations of under-reporting COVID-19 cases in schools last week, but finally released a statement on it Friday night.

  • Officials said that after the winter break, they changed the kinds of cases they report at the school level. They stopped reporting new "open" cases and only reported "closed cases" that have already been "reviewed and investigated," which can take weeks.

Why it matters: Case numbers can determine whether or not individual schools switch to remote learning, a huge issue in the recent CTU/CPS standoff.

  • CPS officials did not alert anyone, including the CTU, that they were changing their counting methods even with cases currently soaring to record levels.
  • School level data is what many CPS parents use to assess their own family's situation.

Driving the news: CPS parent and software engineer Jakob Ondrey unleashed a detailed account of the alleged "intentional" under-reporting on Twitter.

  • It showed that CPS school level cases suddenly dropped around Jan. 4, when the CTU-CPS standoff was heating up.

What they're saying: CPS says it changed the way it reported school level cases to "protect the privacy" of students and staff.

The other side: "Privacy has nothing to do with not displaying this data, which is far more anonymous than class and school level notifications," Ondrey tells Axios, noting that he got two such notifications about infections in his kids' school last week.

  • "Nowhere in [CPS'] statement is an apology for misleading people. As a parent of students entrusted to their care almost every day, I will be waiting for THAT statement."

2. Vaccination bright spot: Cristo Rey

Photo of a school.

Students at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. Photo courtesy of Cristo Rey

CPS announced last week that 53% of its high schoolers and about a third of elementary school students are now vaccinated, an improvement over fall figures.

But at least one school, a Catholic high school in Pilsen, has achieved 100% vaccination.

  • Officials at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School say all of their 545 students are vaccinated except two with medical exemptions.
  • For comparison, nearby Benito Juarez High School has a 65% vaccination rate for its 1,680 students.

How: The all-Latino high school made COVID vaccinations mandatory.

Between the lines: Cristo Rey students do work-study programs with corporations all over Chicago as part of their education.

  • "So we felt like it was important both for the in-person learning experience, as well as to be good stewards with our corporate partners, [to require vaccination], just knowing that we'd be sending students back into the downtown office spaces," principal Lucas Schroeder tells Axios.

The key: Getting buy-in required, "conversations … some education and partnering with St. Anthony's Hospital to run several vaccination clinics over the summer on site at our school," Schroeder said.

Advice to other schools: "It takes a lot of patience … and to listen to the families and to hear their concerns," Schroeder said. "I think that at the end, we all want the same thing."

3. Tips and hot links

Illustration of Willis Tower skyscraper on the planet Earth.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

📚 Some CPS kids are asking for "no harm" finals after the recent Omicron variant surge and cancelled classes have put them behind. (Block Club Chicago)

💉 Mass vaccination sites are back in Cook County. (WGN TV)

👮‍♀️ Suburbs and warmer cities are putting on the full-court press to lure away Chicago police officers. (Sun-Times)

🏀 The Bulls lost yet another contributor to injury, as Alex Caruso will be sidelined 6-8 weeks with a wrist fracture. (NBA.com)

🦅 Bald eagles are migrating south to Illinois. Here's the best place to see the majestic birds during their winter vacation. (Chicago Tribune)

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4. MMQB: Bears conducting second interviews

A photo of a football coach on the sidelines.

Former Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell during a game against the Packers in 2017. Photo: Leon Halip/Getty Images

It was hard to watch the NFL playoffs this weekend without the Bears. It was even harder to keep up with the organization's slew of head coach interviews.

A quick update to cut through the clutter on the potential front-runners for the Bears head coaching vacancy:

Hot stove

Jim Caldwell: The former Lions head coach has been out of the league for two years. But the Bears are reportedly asking about the availability of coaches Caldwell would want on his staff.

Brian Flores: The former Dolphins head coach reportedly had a good interview. The word used often: smitten.

Matt Eberflus: The Colts defensive coordinator impressed Halas Hall enough to get a second interview.

Still in play

Leslie Frazier: The Bills defensive coordinator had his interview this weekend right before the Bills-Chiefs divisional round playoff game. He's supposedly a favorite of Bill Polian, the man consulting with the McCaskeys on the hire.

Brian Daboll: The other Bills coordinator who is probably going to get a shot. His stock has gone through the roof due to Josh Allen's playoff performance. Will it be here?

Cooling off

Jim Harbaugh: The former Bears quarterback reportedly had a phone call with the Bears brass. But it now seems likely that Harbaugh is not in the mix.

5. Forgotten Chicago addresses

Illustration of Da Chicago Game Show
Da Chicago Game Show Mondays on Twitch. Graphic courtesy of Da Chicago Game Show

👋Hi, Justin here!

Every Monday, I co-host a really loose, fun Chicago game show on Twitch with categories and questions about Chicago.

  • Want to play? Here's a sample.

Today's category: Don't look for it, it's not there anymore.

📬 Respond to this email with what legendary Chicago places used to be at these addresses and you could win some Axios swag! Try not to use Google. 😇

  • 646 South State Street
  • 633 North Wells Street
  • 3175 West Madison Street
  • 4220 South Halsted Street
  • 423 East 43rd Street

👀 I'll give away the answers tomorrow! And watch tonight, 8pm. Monica will be a guest!

Our picks:

Monica is honored to be featured in the latest City Dweller podcast. But who would want to listen to me yak for 18 minutes? Maybe you.

Justin is excited to listen to Crain's new podcast called "Four-Star Stories." The first episode is on Bronzeville. Check it out!

Want free Axios swag? Refer your friends to Axios Chicago and get cool merch like stickers, totes, hats, T-shirts and more!