While schools in Evanston and statewide have reopened for in-person learning, some students are still required to take e-learning at home, just as everyone did during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These are the students who are in COVID-related quarantine, either with COVID itself, or through close contact with someone who has the virus or virus symptoms.

Fully vaccinated students who experience close contact do not have to quarantine, but with COVID shots restricted to those age 12 and older, most District 65 youngsters are too young for the vaccine.

More than 250 students in Evanston/Skokie School District 65 have been in “quarantine remote classrooms” at some time since school began in August, assistant superintendent Stacy Beardsley told the Board of Education Monday night

The majority of those quarantined had to stay home due to close contact, as only 34 students have had reported cases of COVID-19 since the start of classes, out of close to 7,000 children in the district from early childhood through 8th grade.

In addition, only two staff members have reported positive COVID cases, and a total of seven have been in quarantine over various periods since school started.

Quarantine time, based on local health department rules, is ten days for Evanston and 14 days for Skokie.

Five long-term substitute teachers are handling the remote classrooms, providing instruction which the district says “allows a student to stay connected, continue learning, and transition back to the classroom with minimal loss of learning.”

Beardsley said implementation of the remote classroom program “overall is going well,” however attendance is only 60-70%, so the district plans to work on improving that number.

COVID cases are self-reported, so it will be interesting to see if there is an increase in positive results once testing begins in the district later this week.

Unvaccinated students will be tested unless their parent or guardian opts them out.

COVID vaccination is mandatory for staff members unless they receive a religious or medical exemption. Employees with such an exemption face required testing.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.