Downtown Evanston on Wednesday.

Some teachers and students were already inside Evanston Township High School on Wednesday morning before the district decided to call off in-person school due to snow.

Rick Cardis, president of the Teachers Council told Evanston Now that the district put out word at 7:15 am that ETHS would go to E-learning.

While regular classes do not begin until 8:30, there was a musical ensemble already practicing, and there were also students and teachers on hand for “early bird” classes that had started a few minutes before the school closing announcement was made.

Everybody had to go home.

Some teachers took to Facebook, pointing out that Evanston/Skokie District 65, the elementary and middle school feeder system for ETHS, made its E-learning call at 5 a.m.

Several teachers, in those posts, said they had left home early to drive through the snow, only to have to turn around after arriving at school.

One teacher noted she received a “school-closing” text just as she pulled into the ETHS parking lot.

Union president Cardis said, “We recognize that predicting what the weather is actually going to do is difficult, but waiting until 7:15 created confusion and frustration.”

One teacher said on Facebook that after getting to school, learning of the closing, and then turning around for home, he pulled off to the side of the road to post a remote learning assignment from his phone, that students would access via their computers.

His snowy round-trip lasted nearly two hours.

It’s not known how many teachers and students were either in the building when the E-learning decision was made, or how many were en route or in the parking lot.

Cardis said the teachers are prepared for E-learning if necessary, “and if decision makers are unsure what to do, they should probably err on the side of caution” and decide earlier in the morning what to do.

Late Wednesday afternoon ETHS apologized for how the morning cancellation/shift to E-learning was handled.

In a website statement, the district said, “We understand the severe weather response on Feb. 2 was later than anticipated, and we apologize for the issues caused by the late notification.”

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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