Families of the more than 7,000 students in Evanston/Skokie School District 65 will not have to buy required school supplies for the upcoming academic year.

In a message to the community, Superintendent Devon Horton says the district has decided to use federal Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief funds to purchase the necessary items for all kindergarten through eighth grade pupils, as well as for all students in the therapeutic Park School program (ages 3-21).

Unlike in previous school years, the superintendent says there will be no lists to purchase from nor any fees for instructional school supplies

“We hope this will relieve some of the financial burden and provide parents and caregivers with one less thing to worry about,” Horton says.

The message does not say how much federal money District 65 will use for the supplies.

According to the National Council of State Legislatures, Congress passed several measures in 2020 and 2021 allocating more than $190 billion in emergency relief for schools across the country.

The organization says Illinois has set aside $512 million to “support the local response to the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for the unique challenges of the upcoming school year.”

While District 65 will cover the cost of supplies, Horton says participation fees will continue to be collected as necessary, although scholarships may be possible.

In addition, free breakfast and lunch will once again be available for all students, regardless of family income.

Horton also says the district is “still in the process of finalizing guidance related to health and safety measures” in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

As of now, District 65 is planning to require all students and staff to wear masks, vaccinated or not.

Horton says more information will be released next week.

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