Because so many of its students are less than 12 years of age, the superintendent of Evanston/Skokie Schools says District 65 will continue to require masks in school buildings for both children and adults at this time.

The Illinois Department of Health has adopted new federal guidelines, which say individuals vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer need to wear masks in school.

However, only those 12 and older are currently eligible for COVID shots, which rules out all elementary and many middle school children in District 65’s 7,000-plus student population.

In a message to the community, Superintendent Devon Horton says masks will be required in District 65 buildings “regardless of vaccination status” unless the community is notified otherwise.

Horton says the new guidelines are being reviewed, and health and safety protocols for the upcoming school year will be released in the coming weeks.

“I can assure you,” Horton says, “that we will provide ample notice, resources, and support to ensure a smooth, safe start to our new school year.”

Horton also encourages those 12 and over who have not yet been vaccinated to do so. The shots are free, and, Horton says, are safe, effective, and “are still the strongest form of protection from COVID-19.”

Yesterday, District 202 Superintendent Eric Witherspoon said he expects that Evanston Township High School will adopt the “no masks if vaccinated” guideline, with specifics to be announced before school begins next month.

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