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D65 delays reopening school buildings

Superintendent says he's forming a health advisory panel to make further recommendations.

devon-horton-d65-20191216

Devon Horton.

Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Superintendent Devon Horton late today announced that he’s postponing what had been the planned Jan. 19 reopening of school buildings on a hybrid learning model.

In a letter posted online, Horton noted that positive case rates have remained above the regional target of 8% and local community target of 3% that had been set as requirements for reopening.

He added, “Our understanding is that this local target is no longer advisable by local health officials and is something we must reconsider.”

Horton said he’s forming “a diverse advisory group of medical professionals, staff members and parents to provide additional guidance and take a fresh look at our metrics as well as those that must be considered once in-person learning resumes.”

“We know there are students who are struggling in a remote setting and families who have shared concerns over their child’s mental health,” Horton added. “For these reasons, we must continue to pursue an in-person return option as soon as health conditions allow.”

He said there is a growing consensus among researchers and the medical community that schools reopening at regional positivity rates higher than 8% does not have a significant impact on community spread. In addition, preventative measures, such as mask wearing and social distancing, are highly effective.

Horton said that after consulting with the advisory panel he plans to offer an update Jan. 20 on reopening metrics and the potential move to a hybrid learning model.

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