UPDATED: Monday, March 16 at 2:07 p.m.

Harvey Ahitow, general manager of North Riverside Park Mall, in an email to the Landmark and village officials announced that the shopping center will be curtailing its hours and limiting food court operations to take-out only, starting March 17.

Beginning Tuesday, the mall’s hours will be Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays noon to 6 p.m. Those hours will not necessarily match with J.C. Penney and Sears.

According to Ahitow, the mall has increased its housekeeping hours “to disinfect all touch points in the shopping as often as possible.”

The children’s play area in the lower-level concourse will be closed until further notice and the food court dining area is being closed per Gov. Pritzker’s order. Meals from food court restaurants can be ordered to take home beginning March 17.

In addition, the mall entertainment center Round One announced Sunday it would close for two weeks, effective March 16. 

Urban Air, the indoor adventure park that opened in the North Riverside Park Plaza shopping center less than a month ago, also announced Monday it would be closed until at least March 23 after limiting entry over the weekend to pre-booked parties only.

Also closing as of 9 p.m. Monday will be all of the stand-alone gambling parlors in North Riverside, per the governor’s order, according to Mayor Hubert Hermanek Jr.

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UPDATED: Monday, March 16 at 1:30 p.m.

Brookfield Parks and Rec has closed its offices in the lower level of the Brookfield Village Hall to the public and is canceling all programs and events until further notice, including the Bunny Brunch event scheduled for April 4. Full or pro-rated refunds will be given to those registered.

Online registration remains open and recreation staff are available by phone or email.

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UPDATED: Monday, March 16 at 11:56 a.m

North Riverside to close village offices, rec department

North Riverside Mayor Hubert Hermanek Jr. has announced that tonight’s meeting of the village board has been postponed until March 30.

In addition, all village offices, including the front counter and the recreation department will be closed as of 4:30 p.m. Monday until March 30 and that the Village Commons would be off limits to the public, except for voting on March 17, until that time.

Anyone needing to pay a bill can place it in the drop box outside the Desplaines Avenue entrance to the Village Commons. Village employees will still report to work and will be able to communicate with members of the public by phone and email.

All recreation programming has been canceled through the end of the month and will be reassessed at that time. The police and fire departments remain open.

Riverside shuts Parks and Rec, Public Works to public

The village of Riverside has announced that its Parks and Recreation Department and Public Works Department are closed to the public as of March 16. The village offices in the Riverside Township Hall remain open, but staff request that members of the public transact village business online as much as possible.

The village board meeting scheduled for Thursday, March 19 will be held as scheduled at 7 p.m., but residents are asked to watch it at home on Xfinity Channel 6 or At&T/UVerse Channel 99 or on Riverside TV

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UPDATED: Saturday, March 14 at 10:09 a.m.

 

Mall theater capping ticket sales at 60-percent capacity

Classic Cinemas, which operates the North Riverside Luxury 6 movie theaters at North Riverside Park Mall, 7501 Cermak Road, is limiting ticket sales to shows as a way to provide distance between moviegoers inside the theaters.

In a message to customers on the Classic Cinemas website, CEO Chris Johnson said the company is capping ticket sales to 60 percent capacity.

“When selecting seats, we ask that you leave space between each group,” Johnson said.

In addition to capping capacity, Classic Cinemas has taken other steps, including educating employees on how to prevent spread of COVID-19, offering a new bucket or cup with each drink or popcorn refill and stepping up efforts to disinfect “high-touch” surfaces in addition to its usual overnight cleaning.

“As a family-owned business with theaters dating back to the 1920s, we love movies and cherish the movie-going experience,” Johnson said. “Without our guests and amazing Classic Cinemas family, we wouldn’t be here today. This time-honored tradition has weathered many storm, so we will get through this together.”

North Riverside Park Mall, meanwhile, remains open with normal operating hours. A statement on the mall’s website indicates officials there have also stepped up efforts to clean and disinfect areas, have increased signage in restrooms encouraging frequent hand washing and setting up extra hand sanitizing stations at all mall entrances.

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UPDATED: Friday, March 13 at 6:35 p.m.

 

Brookfield Zoo open, but indoor spaces off limits

The Chicago Zoological Society on Friday evening announced that Brookfield Zoo will remain open to the public, but is closing all of its indoor public spaces, including indoor animal exhibits, restaurants, gift shops and the Discovery Center through at least April 1.

Also cancelled at this time are all events, including Zoo Goes Blue for Autism, and animal programs, including dolphin shows and dolphin viewing area, Penguin Encounters, poolside penguin feedings and keeper chats.

Food and other merchandise will be available for purchase at outdoor stands and mobile carts. Public bathrooms will remain open and will be cleaned and sanitized regularly.

Admission to the zoo during this period will be free, but parking fees will still apply. Anyone who has already purchased tickets or made reservations for special programs will receive an email with information about obtaining a refund.

More information is available at CZS.org.

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UPDATED: Friday, March 13 at 5:17 p.m.

 

All schools ordered closed

Even prior to Gov. J.B Pritzker’s announcement Friday afternoon that he was ordering all schools in the state closed, local schools had already made that call.

The decision to close schools had a ripple effect on local libraries. Meanwhile, local recreation departments moved to cancel a host of programs, including the NortH Riverside Players’ spring musical, postponed for the first time in the troupe’s 29-year histry.

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UPDATED: Friday, March 13 at 1:03 p.m.

 

Brookfield Library suspends programs and meetings

The Brookfield Public Library has announced on its website that all programs and meetings are being canceled through the month of March. That includes all room reservations.

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UPDATED: Friday, March 13 at 12:03 p.m.

Nazareth Academy to close March 16

Officials at Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park notified students and staff on Friday morning that the high school would close on March 16 and will begin eLearning days on March 17.

The plan at this time is to resume classes on March 30, but that could be subject to change due to the evolving situation.

In addition, all after-school events and athletics have been suspended through April 19. Parents have been notified of the school’s action, and more detailed information will be available to the public later today.

 

Riverside Library cancels all programs, meetings

Riverside Public Library has announced it will be ceasing all of its programs, with the exception of the appointment-only AARP tax return program each Wednesday, through March 31.

All meeting room reside Library cancels programsservations have been canceled, but the library will remain open at its regular hours at this time. That could change if local schools close their doors, which appears likely.

The library also announced it is stepping up its cleaning regimen and will be removing many toys from public areas.

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UPDATED: Friday, March 13 at 11:03 a.m.

Early voting hours extended

With an eye toward decreasing traffic at the polls on March 17, the Cook County Clerk has extended hours for early voting at all of its more than 50 sites, including the one at Brookfield Village Hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave.

The polling place at Brookfield Village Hall will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on both Saturday, March 14 and Sunday, March 15. Hours on Monday, March 16 will remain 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Catholic schools closing, church services suspended

The Archdiocese of Chicago notified Catholic schools on Friday that, effective March 16, all of the schools in the archdiocesan system in Cook and Lake counties, would be closed until further notice.

The decision will affect St. Mary School in Riverside and St. Louise de Marillac School in

The decree does not apply to schools operated by religious orders, such as Nazareth Academy, Fenwick High School, Trinity High School and St. Joseph High School. Decisions on whether to close those schools will be made individually by those institutions.

“At this time, we have not determined how long this closure will last,” said Jim Rigg, superintendent of schools for the archdiocese in a letter to parents.

Students will still be asked to complete assignments through eLearning or alternative learning programs in place.

The decision to close schools came in conjunction with a decision by the archdiocese to suspend all church services, effective the evening of March 14. The only exception to the order are weddings and funerals scheduled for March 14.

Churches may remain open in spite of the suspension of services for private prayer, at the direction of local pastors.

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UPDATED: Friday, March 13 at 10:14 a.m.

District 95 forming contingency plan

Mark Kuzniewski, superintendent of Brookfield-LaGrange Park School District 95 sent out a message to families Thursday following an emergency faculty meeting that afternoon.

Kuzniewski said school officials are working to develop what he called a “continuity of education” plan in case school is canceled. He hopes to have it finished by Tuesday morning, March 17.

It would consist of home-based learning for students, two days’ worth to start. He said they would not allow students to take school devices, i.e. laptops and the like, home but said about 97 percent of students’ homes have web access.

“The roll out of this will not be smooth,” Kuzniewski said. “I believe the best thing for our students is to have a reasonable plan to engage them in meaningful activities.”

Kuzniewski said at least one parent has pulled their child out of school because of concerns about catching the virus.

He said that anyone with a temperature of more than 99.5 degrees should not be at school. He also said that he believes kids are safer at school than anywhere else they are likely to be, noting that surfaces at the schools are cleaned three times a day.

Kuzniewski also noted said there have not been many kids sick at school.

“We have not had to send kids home based on fever, cough, or any of those symptoms,” Kuzniewski said.

While school has not been canceled yet, Kuzniewski said he believed closure was inevitable and could be lengthy.

“I believe school is going to be canceled, the question is when,” Kuzniewski said. “It is moving so fast, it’s crazy.”

Bob Skolnik

 

LTHS ceases athletic events, after-school activities

Lyons Township High School officials have canceled all after-school activities, meetings, events, athletic events and practices, field trips and performances through March 30. The school has also canceled any rentals of its facilities by outside organizations.

While classes continue to be held Friday, access to the school is being limited to essential visitors only. Parents are not restricted, according to a message posted on the school’s website.

The school is developing plans for eLearning days if LTHS is required to close for an extended period of time. Attendance limits on parent-excused absences have been suspended for the rest of the semester.

 

Classes in session at RBHS

Students are still attending classes at Riverside-Brookfield High School as of Friday, but the school has announced some cancellations. The March 13 meeting of the Anime Club was scrapped and the National Honors Society induction event scheduled has been postponed until April 8.

The school is also suspending an attendance incentive it uses for final exam exemptions for seniors, in response to a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control.

Officials also moved on March 12 to quell a social media rumor that an RBHS student had contracted coronavirus. The school stated that the person who posted a SnapChat message indicating they had the virus is not a student at RBHS and had not been in the building during the spring semester.

 

Local events canceled

The coronavirus emergency is also beginning to affect smaller local events. The Hollywood Citizens Association announced that it was canceling its pancake breakfast, scheduled for March 14.

Meanwhile, Ascension Lutheran Church in Riverside announced it was canceling its festival of Music featuring the Chicago Horn Consort, which had been scheduled for March 22.

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UPDATED: Thursday, March 12 at 5:28 p.m.

All before- and after-school activities canceled in School District 103

Lyons-Brookfield School District 103, which serves the southeast quarter of Brookfield, has canceled all field trips, before- and after-school clubs and academic programs and all extra-curricular activities, effective March 13.

The district’s before- and after-school child care program will run until March 27. After that date, parents being asked to find other child care arrangements.

“These changes will be in place until further notice and any adjustments will be communicated as quickly as possible,” said Superintendent Kristopher Rivera in a message to parents posted on the school district’s website.

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UPDATED: Thursday, March 12 at 4:40 p.m.

North Riverside Library cancels all events

North Riverside Public Library ihas now announced that it is canceling all of it s programming. It had already canceled some programs for senior citizens.

“Out of an abundance of caution and in an effort to increase social distancing, the North Riverside Public Library has canceled all March library programs effective March 16, 2020. Please stay safe,” library officials said in an emailed statement. “We will reassess the situation for our April programs a little later in the month.”

The only library program that will run as scheduled is appointment-only AARP tax preparation, which will proceed as scheduled on Thursdays at 10 a.m.

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UPDATED: Thursday, March 12 at 4:10 p.m.

School District 102 cancels events

LaGrange-Brookfield Elementary School District 102 Superintendent Kyle Schumacher on March 12 announced in an email to families that it would be canceling a number of after-school activities and large-group gatherings through at least April 6.

The school district has pulled the plug on all PTC and PTO meetings and has postponed an open house at Congress Park School in Brookfield that had been scheduled for March 19.

Also postponed are the orchestra tours scheduled for the week of March 16 and band tours scheduled for the week of March 31, Bella de Artes (March 13), Cossitt Clothing Sale (March 13-14), Barnsdale Music Concert (March 16) and the Ogden School Green Bagel Day (March 17).

“Events occurring after spring break are on hold at this point,” Schumacher said in his letter. “All outside rentals of District 102 facilities will be canceled from March 13 through April 6. Based on information available after break, we will determine if we need to postpone additional events and cancel outside rentals of District 102 facilities.”

After-school events and clubs attended only by students will continue, but school officials have also begin planning in case closure of schools becomes necessary.

“We continue to develop alternative learning plans in the event that we have an extended closure,” Schumacher said. “These plans will include a combination of online and packet work.”

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Published March 12 at 11:24 a.m.

Local responses to the coronavirus emergency accelerated this week and are likely to increase in the coming days and weeks as the number of those infected both nationally and locally increase.

Actions so far have included restricted access to nursing homes, the cancellation of programs for senior citizens at local libraries and elsewhere and a change in at least one polling place for voters in part of North Riverside and Riverside.

 

Polling place changed

North Riverside Village Clerk Kathy Ranieri has announced the March 17 polling place for Riverside Township precincts 10 and 12 is being moved from Caledonia Senior Living to the North Riverside Village Commons, 2401 Desplaines Ave.

Precinct 10 falls within the village of Riverside and takes in the northwest corner of village, while Precinct 12 includes all of North Riverside south of 26th Street as well as the 2500 blocks on Keystone and Forest avenues.

North Riverside will be posting signs throughout the precinct and at Caledonia Senior Living announcing the change and will be sending out a Code Red message to residents Thursday.

Riverside sent out an email about the change for Precinct 10 and has posted a map on its website denoting the area affected by the change. Polling places for the village’s other precincts remain unchanged.

 

Libraries cancel some senior programs

The public libraries in Brookfield, Riverside and North Riverside announced on March 11 that programs for senior citizens funded through grants from Age Options are being suspended indefinitely.

That includes a Bingocize program scheduled in Riverside on March 12 and an intergenerational craft program in North Riverside on March 14. Also on hiatus are the Chair Yoga, Chanting for a Change and The Gong programs for seniors at Brookfield Public Libnrary.

North Riverside Library emailed a notice to patrons Wednesday outlining other steps, including placing additional hand sanitizers at service desks, asking volunteers to wipe down surfaces throughout the week and asking patrons to return all materials through the book drop.

 

Colgrass Cafe closed, for now

Aging Care Connections, the LaGrange-based agency that holds a variety of programs for senior citizens, has suspended its Congregate Meals program. Also suspended until further notice is the lunch program for seniors operated five days a week by the Community Nutrition Network out of the Colgrass Café at the Brookfield Elks Lodge.

On March 12, the café was planning to serve lunches to seniors but for take away only. The lunch service will be suspended after March 12. Any seniors who want to order lunches to be picked up in the future should call 708-310-4434.

Aging Care Connections has also canceled its March 12 brain health class and Fitness Fridays class on March 13 as well as its Caregiver Support program until further notice.

 

Senior St. Pat’s lunch canceled

Stevie Ferrari, recreation director for the village of Brookfield, announced Thursday that the Parks and Rec Department is canceling its Senior St. Patrick’s Day luncheon scheduled for Monday, March 16, but that other recreation programming would continue uninterrupted.

North Riverside Recreation Director Teresa Mrozik said she has suspended meetings of the North Riverside Golden Agers until further notice but that, at this time, all other programming continues.

Ron Malchiodi, Riverside’s recreation director, said Fire Chief Matthew Buckley is working with all of the village’s department heads to coordinate responses. At this time, there no plans to cancel or postpone recreation programs.

 

Brookfield Zoo remains open

Brookfield Zoo remains open to visitors daily, but officials there have taken steps to follow procedures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and continue to monitor CDC updates.

According to Sondra Katzen, director of public relations for the Chicago Zoological Society, staff have placed signs in restrooms throughout the zoo on how to best prevent the spread of the virus. The zoo has also increased the strength of the disinfectant it uses to hospital strength and is providing additional disinfectant wipes in common area.

The Chicago Zoological Society has also suspended non-essential travel for staff, said Katzen, and officials continue to urge managers to quickly respond if they see an employee demonstrating flu-like symptoms and send that person home immediately.

 

Nursing home restrictions enacted

Nursing homes in Brookfield and North Riverside, meanwhile, have imposed strict limits on who will be allowed in and out of the facilities and are screening staff daily as they arrive for work.

Both Caledonia Senior Living in North Riverside and Cantata Adult Life Services in Brookfield have initiated an “essential visitors only” policy and are asking family members to refrain from visiting, unless it is absolutely necessary. Children under the age of 18 are not being permitted entry, nor are non-essential vendors.

Gus Noble, president of Caledonia Senior Living, sent letters to residents and family members on March 11 outlining a host a precautions to ensure the safety of residents. They include requiring anyone coming to the campus to be buzzed in at the Scottish Home and undergo an assessment at the front desk, which includes getting their temperature taken, completing a short questionnaire and begin checked for symptoms.

Staff will undergo that screening at the beginning of every shift.

Other precautions include increased signage, increased sanitizing of high-traffic areas, increasing the number of hand-sanitizer stations and declining to admit new residents who are displaying symptoms.