The first week of public school in Evanston has seen the highest number of new COVID-19 cases among students since school began in August.

For the week ending Jan. 14, the two local districts saw 593 positive reports of new cases combined, as the omicron variant spreads across the nation.

The breakdown is 311 new cases at Evanston Township High School and 282 in Evanston/Skokie District 65. That works out to about 5.5% of the combined enrollment of the two districts.

There is also a growing number of positive cases among staff, 61 in District 65, and 41 in District 202 for the past week.

District 65 began the current semester with a remote learning day on Monday, Jan. 10, then returned to in-person classes the next day.

District 202 began in-person as planned on Monday.

Both districts plan normal, in-person schedules next week.

Despite the increasing number of cases, medical experts say that COVID vaccinations minimize the severity of the virus.

Evanston has one of the highest vaccination rates in the area, and perhaps the country. The city says 84.8% of residents are fully vaccinated.

The overall test positivity rate for the most recent rolling seven-day average is 6.02% for all ages combined.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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