Students at the three middle schools in Evanston/Skokie District 65 will be on remote learning the last day before winter break, due to increasing levels of COVID-19.

Superintendent Devon Horton says that Chute, Haven, and Nichols schools will take an “adaptive pause” on Thursday along with grades 6-8 in at the King Arts magnet school.

That means e-learning for those students, just like during the long pandemic-related school system closing in 2020 and early 2021.

In a website message to the community, Horton says this decision was made in consultation with the local health department, and is “based on the unique situation of every classroom, grade level, and school.”

Based on such situations, 6th graders at King Arts were also on adaptive pause on Monday and Tuesday, and the children at Joseph E. Hill Early Childhood Center have had remote learning since Monday.

Horton says besides the actual number of COVID-19 cases in a building (122 new ones district-wide as of December 21), the decision to go remote at certain schools is also based on the number of students in quarantine as well as the impact on staff.

“We know that this news is difficult,” Horton says, “and yet was made with the health and safety of our students and staff in mind.”

All other school buildings are scheduled to be open on the 23rd. Winter break begins Friday, Dec. 24. School reopens on Jan. 10. Each school building, Horton says, will be deep cleaned over vacation.

There is a chance, Horton adds, that additional COVID mitigation strategies will be in effect when the second semester begins in January, “fully in-person,” according to the district.

Evanston Township High School went on adaptive pause/remote learning for the entire school last Friday, and that through the start of winter break on Friday.

The move to remote learning for some schools comes as Evanston on Wednesday recorded its second highest daily COVID-19 case count of the pandemic with 132 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases here stands at 112.9 — that’s triple what it was a week ago.

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