Evanston school officials say they’re monitoring weather conditions as forecasts call for a blizzard that could dump 18 inches or more of snow on the city from late Tuesday into Wednesday. But they’ve made no decision to close schools either Tuesday or Wednesday so far.

Late this afternoon, District 65 School Superintendent Hardy Murphy issued the following letter to parents.

Dear Parents and Guardians:

As you know we are expecting a severe snow storm to blanket the entire area over the next two days. It appears that the worst of this storm will be during the afternoon, evening and night hours on Tuesday and continue through the morning and mid day hours of Wednesday, the next day. And, I am sure you are aware that because of the half day in-service for our teachers, students are scheduled for a half day of attendance on Wednesday. Because of this, a late start is not practical. However, I share your concerns for the safety of our students in getting to school.

I also know that many of you have child care concerns and that timely notification of whether school will be in session, is necessary to make arrangements with child care providers and employers. Please understand that we will be monitoring the situation closely. We are sending out an email to surrounding school districts to make sure that we know what is happening in those communities. We are also attending a meeting with the city this evening to coordinate our response with theirs. Additionally, I have spoken with Dr. Witherspoon, the Superintendent of District 202. He and I will be in contact as the storm approaches to coordinate our efforts. And, our maintenance and custodial staff members are planning a response to ensure safe transit in and around our schools. Conversations with our transportation providers will also occur.

I know that in previous inclement weather experiences there have been concerns about why school was not closed. For me, the decision hinged on my belief that the safest places for our students are the schools and classrooms of our district. For the children in homes where both parents work and there is no child care, our schools are their best option. There they find caring and responsible adults and warmth. However, if it is too dangerous for them to get to school, another decision is appropriate. We will be monitoring the situation closely. And, we know that timely communications are important. Please expect additional updates as we know more about the severe weather system approaching us.

In addition to the district website please stay attuned to our local media for notification regarding school closings. However, in doing so, double check to make sure that any notifications regarding District 65 are for Evanston/Skokie Community Consolidated School District 65. In previous experiences, it appears that people responded to other School District 65 closings broadcast through TV and radio that were not us. You will also receive a phone call from our automated system, and notification through our parent portal if the decision is made to close schools and/or after-school programs.

Thank you for your understanding.

Hardy Murphy, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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