The five unions representing employees at Evanston/Skokie School District 65 have issued a statement saying, “We are appreciative of how the District continues to keep the health and safety of our District 65 community a priority.”

The employee groups also say, “We are continuing to work out some of the details.”

The 7,300-student district has been on remote learning since the school year began and is wrestling with trying to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest reopening target is Jan. 19, for students whose parents opt for in-person learning.

The union statement does not directly respond to the district’s potential insistence that any employee who does not want to work in person will have to provide a “certified letter from their medical doctor.”

A parents group called the Coalition to Reopen District 65 Schools gave Evanston Now the contents of a message from Superintendent Devon Horton to a parent group member. That message talked of the doctor’s note requirement.

The unions also say “We are working closely with the District to set up protocols in order to keep our staff and students safe.”

“As educators,” the unions continue, “we are concerned about the social and emotional well being of our students, families, and all staff as well as the physical health and are working to balance that daily.”

Superintendent Horton has released an outline for how a hybrid school model will work if District 65 reopens in mid-January. However, he has also said there will have to be “lower positivity rates ad less strain on our healthcare system” for the reopening to take place.

Union leaders issuing the statement are:

  • Natalie Copper, President, Evanston Association of Child Care Professionals.
  • Dawn Jackson, President, Evanston Teacher Assistants Association.
  • Meg Krulee, President, District 65 Educators’ Council.
  • Dana Smalley, President, District 65 Educational Secretarial and Clerical Association.
  • Omar Whyte, President, Evanston Custodial Maintenance Association.

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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