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815 < 5 is a pair of podcasts bringing you the latest news and events in and around the 8-1-5 area code in less than five minutes! It was produced by students at Northern Illinois University's Journalism 302 News Reporting course during the Spring semester. In May 2022, 815<5 received 1st Place in the Outstanding Radio Newscast category from the Illinois News Broadcasters Association's statewide student awards.

DeKalb County This Week: Illinois to drop mask mandate, school rules in legal limbo

This week, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that the state will join California, New York, and many others in suspending an indoor mask mandate starting Feb. 28.

Illinois’ mandate will still be in effect for schools, pending the state’s appeal to a downstate judge’s ruling striking down the mandate.

Kyle Gerdes is the Director of Student Services for DeKalb school district 428. He says there’s a lot up in the air when it comes to schools.

“The only guarantee is there’s change on the horizon," Gerdes said. "Whether it be new guidance that comes from the IDPH or the governor’s office. The fact that there’s another change or reason to pivot that came in late last week, that wasn’t surprising. I think all educators right now are looking forward to the day where things get back to a little bit more of a normal cadence.”

Plans for the removal of the statewide mask mandate comes as the DeKalb County Health Department records the lowest number of weekly COVID-19 cases since Christmas. The Health Department's COVID Dashboard says 677 new cases of the virus were reported along with four deaths last week. Just over 54% of the county's population is fully vaccinated.

To help increase that number, Northern Illinois University will hold a COVID-19 booster clinic next week. The community clinic will be taking place at the NIU Convocation Center on Wednesday, February 16 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration is encouraged on the DeKalb County Health Department's website, but walk-ins will be accepted.

Community Calendar

Whiskey Acres Distilling Co. is hosting a concert featuring musical artist Cole Brandt on Saturday Feb. 12th.

The Piazza in Aurora is hosting a Valentine’s Burlesque show for those 21 and older on Friday the 11th. The show will also feature comedy and musical acts.

Energize Fitness in Sycamore is holding a couples yoga event on the 12th at 5p.m.


With basketball season ending soon, teams have their last chances to make an impact this season. Two DeKalb County teams that made an impact this week were the Hinckley Big Rock boys varsity team and Somonauk.

Hinckley-Big Rock defeated Westminster Christian Basketball with a 20 point win with a final score of 80 to 60. The girl’s team beat South Beloit 54-27.

Meanwhile, the Somonauk boys team defeated Sandwich by nine points. The Somonauk girls team faces Plano on Thursday night.

The Indian Creek boys lost to Plano. The Hiawatha Hawks’ girls team defeated Mooseheart.

Contributions by Jonathan Jurgens, Allison Formeller, Amanda Woo, Jaylen Conwell, and Joi Bradley