District 65 board members at Monday's meeting.

While the overall positivity rate among students is still low, a new jump in COVID-19 cases is causing Evanston/Skokie School District 65 to consider new mitigation measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

Assistant Superintendent Romy DeCristofaro told the School Board’s Curriculum and Policy Committee on Monday evening that the number of newly infected students “definitely went up last week. We’re busy monitoring those cases.”

The district’s COVID-19 dashboard shows 20 new cases in the December 3 count.

140 students were also in quarantine as of that date.

DeCristoforo said that “while the overall positivity rate is less than 2%, it is still more than we’ve seen this year.”

She said a meeting is scheduled for later this week with the district’s medical advisory committee and with the city health department to discuss additional mitigation measures, although she did not say what those measures might be, or what will cause them to be implemented.

The Dec. 3 data only shows one new COVID case among staff members, with just two staffers in quarantine.

COVID vaccinations are required for teachers and other school employees in Illinois. They are not required for students.

Until last month, only those age 12 and older were eligible for COVID-19 shots. However, the Pfizer vaccine has now been made available to those 5-11, and District 65 has held two vaccination clinics for students in that age group.

The district also offers voluntary COVID testing for students at school.

Board vice-president Biz Lindsay-Ryan asked if COVID testing days could be adjusted to make sure students coming back from winter break could get those tests as soon as possible.

DeCristofaro said the district would look into that, but it might be a problem for the vendor which administers the tests.

“Like everyone else,” she said, “they’re struggling with staffing too.”

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