Evanston/Skokie School District 65, which started its part-in-person, part-remote hybrid model last month, is hoping to give all students the chance for five days a week of in-person instruction when the next school year starts in the fall.

In a memo to the community, Superintendent Devon Horton says, “Our goal has always been to return all of our students and staff but only when it’s safe to do so. I can confidently say we are on our way.”

Horton says the goal is “All students will have the opportunity to return on-site for live instruction and full days of learning” in the fall, with the target of five full days for every child. He says District 65 is currently reviewing social distancing guidelines to determine space availability. Mask wearing and other coronavirus mitigation measures will continue.

The superintendent also says because some children may not be vaccinated before school starts in August, the district is looking into having a five-day-per-week remote learning option, perhaps through a “district-wide remote learning academy.”

There is also a chance that more students will be allowed back into District 65 buildings for the remainder of the current school year. Due to social distancing space limitations, and priority for certain students (such as special education or low income), demand for in-school slots exceeded supply when district buildings reopened last month. So some students who wanted to return were not able to do so.

Horton says new state guidelines change the previous six feet requirement for social distancing to “3 to 6 feet for students and fully vaccinated staff.” He says the district is reviewing building capacities and is also talking with the teachers’ union, “as we look to bring more students back after spring break.”

The superintendent says there has been “no spread” of the coronavirus in any of District 65’s buildings since reopening last month.

The district’s COVID dashboard indicates 16 students and two staff members have contracted the virus since mid-February, however the dashboard also explains that this “does not mean the student was physically at school on the date of infection.”

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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