District 65 board members at Monday's online meeting.

While the Chicago Teachers Union and the Chicago Public Schools continue to battle over reopening buildings during the COVID-19 pandemic, the superintendent of Evanston/Skokie District 65 is thanking educators here for their agreement to return to the classroom in mid-February.

In a virtual meeting Monday night, Superintendent Devon Horton told the Board of Education that “we have an agreement with our wonderful union, with DEC,” on going back into school buildings. District 65 students and teachers have been on remote learning since school began in August.

DEC, the District 65 Educators Council, represents teachers along with school nurses, social workers, speech and language pathologists, and physical therapists.

Horton said it took 23 “grueling and tiring” bargaining sessions, but “we stayed together” and hammered out the deal. Specifics were not discussed during the board meeting.

District 65 is now scheduled to begin in-person learning on Feb. 16. About half of the district’s 7,300 students will be in their school buildings for part or all of the academic day. The rest of the children will remain on all-day remote learning. Parental choice (in-person or remote) was honored as much as logistically possible, the district has stated.

Horton said staff coronavirus vaccinations began last week, and will continue. He also stated that the district has arranged child care through the YMCA for some staffers. This arrangement, he said, is for employees who otherwise could not return to work.

“Unions, teachers, staff,” Horton said, “We thank you and love you.”

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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