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With the Aug. 15 start of classes getting close, Evanston Township High School is urging students and staff to get COVID-19 booster shots before school begins.

However, those boosters are not required.

In a website message to the community, ETHS says that booster shots are “strongly encouraged,” but not mandated.

The first series of shots, pre-booster, is still required for K-12 school employees under State of Illinois regulations, but not for students.

About 95% of ETHS employees and students did receive that first round of shots by the end of the last school year. Certain exemptions were allowed.

The federal Centers for Disease Control says everyone age five and above should get one COVID booster, and everyone age 50 and above, plus persons 12 and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised, should get two booster shots.

ETHS notes that anyone who is vaccinated against COVID but not boosted “may be required to quarantine” in 2022-23 for at least five days, if they were close contacts with someone who has the virus.

The high school will continue to provide free, optional SHIELD tests for COVID during the school year.

Masks will also continue to be optional, although they will be made available at school entrances.

“Anyone who chooses to wear a mask will be supported in their decision to do so,” ETHS adds, even if the community transmission level is considered low. Currently the Evanston level is at medium.

Evanston/Skokie School District 65 starts K-8 classes on Aug. 24.

The district says it is currently reviewing and amending its health and safety guidelines, and will publicize any decisions before the beginning of school.

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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