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District 65 adds another grade to phased reopening

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Haven Middle School

Certain sixth graders in Evanston/Skokie School District 65 will now be eligible for in-person school, if the district does reopen as planned on Nov. 16.

The district had planned to reopen for targeted pre-K through fifth graders, but in a memo to the District 65 community, Superintendent Devon Horton says some sixth graders will be able to return as well.

The entire district has been on remote learning since school opened, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Because school space will be limited due to COVID-related social distancing, there will not be enough room for all students who want to return to come back, at least at the beginning.

Therefore, students prioritized for return must meet at least three of the following criteria:

  • In special education.
  • English is not the primary language.
  • Low income/eligible for free or reduced price lunch.
  • Homeless.
  • Age. Pre-K, K, Grade 1 or Grade 2.

Horton says students meeting those criteria “have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and resulting school closures.’

Horton also says, “We are looking at options on how to provide in-person support for 7th and 8th grade students in this time period.”

Some special education students with IEPs (Individualized Education Program) might be able to come back late this month rather than in mid-November.

Horton says the district is working on allowing 95 students to attend specialized programs at Park, Rice, RISE at King Arts, STEP at Lincoln, and Hill Early Childhood. Parents/guardians will find out soon if this will happen.

District 65 has more than 7,000 students. About half of the district’s families prefer in-person learning for their children, according to a recent survey. If District 65 does resume school in the buildings, remote learning would still be possible for families wanting to have their children stay at home.

Horton says that schools will only reopen if health metrics allow. He said, “@e will only move forward with our reopening plans if conditions remain stable (currently at 4.8% positivity rate)” for suburban Cook County.

The Illinois Department of Public Health website which is linked from the District 65 letter says the target rate for COVID positivity is less than or equal to five percent.

Horton says families and staff will be notified no later than Oct. 30 if District 65 will have its partial return to school on Nov. 16 or will continue on fully remote learning.

Assuming school does reopen on that date, Horton says plans will then be developed so more students can come back at a time to be determined.

keywords » COVID-19

Jeff Hirsh

Jeff Hirsh

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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