Some students in the Evanston/Skokie elementary schools will be able to attend what the district calls “Remote Learning + Camps” starting on Monday.

The district today said 150 students will attend the camps at the outset, although the number may increase. The camps will be held at Oakton, Dawes, Chute and Kingsley schools, although students from the entire district will be considered.

District 65 has more than 7,000 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, so the camps will only cover a small percentage.

The camps are not considered a return to in-person learning, which is targeted to begin Nov. 16, assuming coronavirus metrics are considered acceptable by district leaders.

District spokesperson Melissa Messinger says “the camps are designed to provide supervision and remote learning support.” Students attending are expected to bring their school-issued computers and take part in regularly scheduled remote school lessons. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Due to social distancing requirements, each classroom will only hold ten-to-twelve students. Masks and other health and safety measures will be utilized. Children will be selected for the program using both State of Illinois guidelines and recommendations from District 65 staff about who should benefit most.

The state says a family’s lack of child care is a factor. Seeing such programs through a “lens of equity” is also important.

The camps will continue through the opening of in-person school. District 65 has been on remote learning since the beginning of this school year.

The City of Evanston already operates camps which are aimed at working families, giving the children a supervised location to do their remote schoolwork, so the parents or caregivers can go to work.

The adults at the city camps are not teachers, but rather help with things like bathroom break times, lunch and simple computer problems.

Superintendent Devon Horton says he is “cautiously optimistic” the coronavirus metrics will allow the start of in-person learning on Nov. 16.

He says based on Department of Health regulations, District 65 should be able to bring back about half of its 7,000-plus students.

A family survey showed 49% preferring a return to in-person school, 40% preferring remote-only (which will remain an option even if school does physically open), and 11% having no preference.

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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