With the number of COVID-19 cases growing community-wide and among students, Evanston/Skokie School District 65 says “it may be necessary to require masks as a preventative measure in some circumstances.”

In a website message, Superintendent Devon Horton says while there are no plans to mandate masks district-wide for the rest of the school year, “masks may be required in certain classrooms, school buses, or even grade levels if we are seeing increased COVID-19 cases or evidence of transmission.”

No specifics were given on whether this has already happened, or where.

The district’s COVID dashboard shows a totat of 203 new student cases, over the reporting dates of May 3 (78 cases), May 6 (62) and May 10 (63).

Horton says “unfortunately, this is not surprising and is likely a result of increased community transmission.”

He adds that “we do not believe this is cause for alarm” at this time, but “we need to be mindful that COVID-19 is still here.”

District 65 will continue other mitigation measures. While masks will not be required (except perhaps temporarily in certain locations), the long-awaited arrival of good weather means a chance to open classroom windows for improved ventilation.

The superintendent adds, however, that “we strongly recommend” that masks still be worn in school, particularly when social distancing cannot be maintained.

SHIELD virus testing at school will end on June 3. Horton says the district and health officials will keep an eye on COVID to decide if testing will be given over the summer and into the next school year.

The last day of classes is June 6. Horton says the district is working on ways to have “much-needed opportunities” for end-of-school events which will “provide enjoyment and maximize safety for all.”

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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