thumbnail largeBUNKER HILL – As remote learning becomes the norm for the foreseeable future, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) is encouraging remote learners and educators to use the state’s new drive-up Wi-Fi hotspot map to find free wireless internet locations.

“A high-quality remote learning experience demands reliable internet access for every student,” Manar said. “While teachers statewide conduct full digital lessons, there are students who have yet to begin e-learning since their schools closed because they don’t have internet access. This map will help support those families while we work toward permanent solutions to this and other digital inequities brought to light by COVID-19.”

Designed to assist students at every level who don’t have consistent internet access in their homes, the interactive map provides drive-up Wi-Fi locations throughout the state and specific log-in instructions for visitors. Students and their parents or guardians should continue to practice social distancing by remaining in their cars while using the hotspots.

As of May 8, the Wi-Fi map has 380 hotspots students can use to complete coursework.

Manar has championed legislation to help ensure rural classrooms have access to internet access and resources for tech and digital learning, but says the ability to connect to the internet is now more important than ever, especially for young children in rural areas who may be experiencing social isolation.

“Connectivity is vital for continued learning, and as a parent, I know that being able to interact with teachers and peers through digital video conferencing platforms can lift a student’s spirits as they navigate this period of social distancing,” Manar said.

To find a hotspot near you, click here.

COFFEEN LakeBUNKER HILL – State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) is urging Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to rethink their decision to keep the Coffeen Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area closed.

Manar raised concerns in a letter to the governor after learning Coffeen Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area wasn’t included in the latest list of state parks set to reopen. After releasing an initial list of 25 state parks and wildlife areas on April 23, IDNR announced on May 1 that they would open an additional 35 parks, including Beaver Dam State Park in Macoupin County.

“With appropriate social distancing and other commonsense measures in place, I am of the opinion that Coffeen Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area should open,” Manar said. “I urge the governor and IDNR to rethink this decision and allow Montgomery County and area families to enjoy local recreation that Coffeen Lake provides.”

Manar says outdoor recreation is a necessity for all Illinoisans, but is particularly at risk for those who live downstate. He notes that many smaller communities don’t have local parks, so state parks, historic sites, and recreation areas become more important.

“Access to fresh air and exercise is crucial for all Illinoisans, and in many rural communities, municipal and neighborhood parks are simply not an option, because they often do not exist,” Manar added. “I appreciate the governor adding Beaver Dam State Park to the original list of parks that would open. Now, I am asking him to do the same for Coffeen Lake.”

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Call4Calm

The Illinois Department of Human Services’ Mental Health Division is operating Call4Calm, a free emotional support text line for Illinois residents experiencing stress and mental health issues related to COVID-19.

Illinoisans who would like to speak with a mental health professional can text “TALK” to 5-5-2-0-2-0. Once a resident sends a text to the hotline, within 24 hours they will receive a call from a counselor employed by a local community mental health center to provide support. Individuals can also text key words such as “unemployment” or “food” or “shelter” and will receive information on pertinent resources and services.

NAMI HelpLine

The NAMI HelpLine is a free, nationwide peer-support service providing information, resource referrals and support to people living with a mental health conditions, their family members and caregivers, mental health providers and the public. HelpLine staff and volunteers are experienced, well-trained and able to provide guidance.

To contact the NAMI HelpLine, please call 800-950-NAMI (6264), Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., ET, or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

NAMI Resources

Additionally, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has published a COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide to answer frequently asked questions regarding the intersection between the novel coronavirus and people affected by mental illness, their caregivers and loved ones. The guide features FAQs on a variety of topics, from managing anxiety and social isolation to accessing health care and medications.

Helpful Tips

Senator Manar encourages residents to take simple steps to care for themselves, such as:

  • Connect with friends and family online,
  • Keep regular work hours while at home,
  • Prepare healthy meals,
  • Spend time outside,
  • Exercise regularly, and
  • Stay up to date with accurate information.

Immediate Help

If you or a loved one are in need of immediate assistance:

beaver dam2BUNKER HILL - Under the state’s new modified Stay at Home Order that went into effect today, 60 state parks and historic sites in Illinois are now open for recreational outdoor activities, including Beaver Dam State Park.

 Last week, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources released an initial list of just 25 parks that were set to open. Concerned about the absence of parks within a reasonable travel distance for families in Macoupin and surrounding counties, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and other downstate legislators asked the Department of Natural Resources and Governor JB Pritzker to include Beaver Dam State Park.

 The Pritzker administration today announced it amended the new Stay at Home Order to include Beaver Dam among 35 parks added to the initial list published by IDNR.

 “Outdoor recreation is among the healthiest ways to cope with the uncertainty and ease the restlessness that many are experiencing right now. Our family is struggling at times with the Stay at Home Order—especially our three children. Getting outdoors helps them,” Manar said. “I appreciate IDNR and the governor taking into consideration my suggestions for reopening Beaver Dam State Park in Macoupin County.”

 Provided that they follow social distancing guidelines, guests will be allowed to engage in activities at reopened state parks such as boating in groups of no more than two, wildlife observation, hiking, biking, horse riding, and fishing.

 All visitor centers, campgrounds, playgrounds, shelter reservations, interpretive educational programs, beaches, special events and concessions will remain closed. Manar said he believes the next phase of opening will include additional parks and camping on a limited basis.

A full list of parks that reopen today, as well as social distancing guidelines for guests can be found here.

COVID19 Updates

 

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