When Evanston/Skokie District 65 returned in part to in-person school in February, the demand for seats exceeded the COVID-19-restricted supply. In-person learning had to be prioritized. Students with certain academic needs received first choice. Some others had to remain on virtual learning, even if their families preferred school in person.

But when the 2021-22 school year opens this August, the scenario will be reversed. Virtual learning will still be an option, but if too many students sign up for that, not everyone will receive it.

With the coronavirus pandemic diminishing and vaccinations increasing, Superintendent Devon Horton says, “We are excited for the opportunity to welcome students and staff for a full return to in-person learning.” In-person will be the norm.

However, in a District website letter to the community, Horton also says, “There may be some students who may be unable to return for various reasons.” Therefore the district is also offering a virtual option.

Horton says the goal is to ensure “parental choice of learning pathway to the greatest extent possible.” However, he says, “if demand for virtual learning exceeds the district’s ability to ensure adequate staffing,” it may be necessary to “prioritize [virtual] seats based on medical need” or special education status.

In order to determine demand for virtual learning, the district is asking parents to fill out a form on the parent portal.

If a family does not want virtual learning for their children, it is not necessary to fill out the form.

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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