Georgia Nugent
Breanna Grow / WGLT

Education has been deeply impacted by both the COVID-19 pandemic and rising pressure to end racism. 

Local education administrators detailed how they’re responding to the concurrent issues during a virtual Bloomington-Normal NAACP town hall Thursday night.

Larry Lyons speaks at a virtual meeting
Breanna Grow / WGLT

Illinois State University students and board trustees say they want more updates from administrators on their progress addressing anti-Blackness on campus.

Board of Trustees on a conference call
Breanna Grow / WGLT

Illinois State University administrators fended off criticism and debunked myths surrounding COVID-19 on campus during a virtual update to the Board of Trustees on Saturday.

Normal and other cities shouldn’t expect a full economic recovery until 1 to 3 years after a COVID vaccine becomes available, administrators told the Normal Town Council on Tuesday.

Breanna Grow / WGLT

Last spring students at Illinois State University led a crowd of least 250 in a march through Uptown Normal to demand governments take action to fight climate change.   

The Normal Town Council voted Wednesday to keep in place through Dec. 31 new rules limiting crowds near the Illinois State University campus in response to a spike in local COVID-19 cases, mostly among ISU students.

Bloomington-Normal Human Resource Council / WGLT

The Human Resource department is where employees turn to with a plethora of questions. With COVID-19 surging and the unknown muddying answers, HR professionals have had to adjust.

The Bloomington City Council gave the official OK Monday night for Grossinger Motors Arena to be used as a “universal” voting site for McLean County residents on Election Day on Nov. 3.

Students lined up to be tested
@IllinoisStateU / Twitter

UPDATED 6:20 p.m. | McLean County's testing positivity rate jumped again Thursday as 41 new coronavirus cases were reported, including a worsening outbreak at Illinois Wesleyan University.

Brian Snyder / Pool Reuters via AP

Political campaigning is a social endeavor. But like the rest of us, candidates have had to shift to virtual platforms to connect with voters and get their message heard.

Kids running on playground

Child care programs for Bloomington-Normal students are filling up, with less than a week until the start of the fall semester.

Jeff Smudde / WGLT

The growing number of positive COVID-19 cases is making it harder to staff nursing units in central Illinois.

Illinois State University faculty and staff asked public health experts their lingering COVID-19 questions during a live webinar Friday on the eve of the fall semester.

Illinois State University administrators received authorization to spend up to $3.3 million this semester for COVID-19 testing of asymptomatic students, with the ISU board of trustees approving the plan Wednesday during a virtual meeting.

Unit 5 wants students back into its buildings by mid-October. But in the meantime staff is training for a districtwide remote learning scenario that’s very different from last spring, Unit 5 Superintendent Kristen Weikle said Tuesday.

Maribeth Lartz / Maribeth Lartz

Masks have saved thousands of lives during the pandemic, but they also have affected people who are deaf or hard of hearing and how they communicate with others.

Mark Turnaukus / Flickr / CC-by 2.0

The looming end to a statewide rent moratorium is not the only thing sparking financial fear. A ban on utility shutoffs can't last forever—and a lot of renters and homeowners are behind on their bills.

Exterior of HSH
Home Sweet Home Ministries / Facebook

Health experts flagged homeless shelters, jails, and other places with people living closely together as high risk for coronavirus spread early on in the pandemic. They're called congregant living settings. While most central Illinois homeless shelters have kept the virus out, jails have more of a mixed picture.

Bloomington’s strong budget reserves helped it weather COVID-19 this spring, but the pandemic’s unpredictability means the city’s finances aren’t yet in the clear, leaders heard during Monday night’s city council meeting.

Michele Steinbacher / WGLT

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Normal’s revenue stream, but less than planners feared, thanks to some adjustments made this spring, the Town Council heard at Monday night’s meeting.

Connect Transit bus in Uptown
Jeff Smudde / WGLT

Connect Transit General Manager Isaac Thorne says the service may need to use $9.1 million in federal assistance to offset a potential lack of state funding.

Thorne said Connect Transit has no assurance the Illinois Department of Transportation will be able to provide its normal 65% reimbursement of expenses after September. IDOT is the bus service’s largest funding source.

Reditus sign at COVID-19 testing site entrance

As parts of the country face a spike in coronavirus cases, more McLean County residents are choosing to get tested.

McLean County Jail
Eric Stock / WGLT

Five McLean County jail inmates are among scores of defendants whose court-ordered transfer to a state mental health facility has been delayed because of COVID-19.

Hamilton Road project
City of Bloomington

Bloomington will get financial help from the federal government to acquire property for connecting the two sections of Hamilton Road.

On Wednesday night, the city council approved a resolution authorizing the use of $500,000 of state motor fuel tax dollars to buy the land needed to build the new four-lane section between Bunn Street and Commerce Parkway with $400,000 to be reimbursed with Federal Surface Transportation funds.

Red Cross Offers COVID-19 Antibody Tests After Donating Blood

Jun 17, 2020
Ross D. Franklin / AP

The American Red Cross has a new way to encourage blood donation: Anyone who donates also will be tested to see if they have developed COVID-19 antibodies.

The Red Cross on Monday began testing donors for COVID-19 antibodies in the hope that more people would offer to donate. The test has been authorized for emergency use by the FDA.

Red Cross officials say donation is especially important now that hospitals are starting to resume surgeries and other treatments that require blood.

While Normal residents will start seeing higher utility bills next month, a planned water rate increase has been delayed another three months.

After narrowly adopting an amendment proposed by Karyn Smith, the town council voted unanimously Monday night in favor of an ordinance implementing the previously approved water, sewer and waste collection fees. Smith’s amendment pushed the water fee increase to Oct. 1, while the other fee hikes will take effect July 1.

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner and City Councilmember Jenn Carillo.
Breanna Grow / WGLT

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner stressed public safety remains the city’s top priority while pledging to improve law enforcement practices. City Council member Jenn Carrillo advocated for a complete overhaul of police departments.

Lisa Slater / Illinois Heart and Lung Foundation

The Illinois Heart and Lung Foundation is working with local partners to collect and distribute nonmedical masks to people who need them, especially now that businesses are starting to reopen.

Edwin Land / Flickr/Creative Commons

Illinois bars and restaurants can now serve mixed-drinks to go. Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the measure into law Tuesday.

Cindy Le / WGLT

Normal City Council member Chemberly Cummings took the opportunity Monday night to shed a light on the toll of racism, one night after looters ransacked several retail stores in town.

Cummings said earlier peaceful protests and the following civil unrest left some members of the community feeling courageous and hopeful and others worried and fearful.