School District 65 and District 202 (Evanston Township High School) announced on March 12 that they would close all their schools at the end of the school day on March 13 and plan to re-open on April 13, after spring break.
Letters from ETHS Superintendent Eric Witherspoon and District 65 Interim Superintendents Heidi Wennstrom and Phil Ehrhardt were sent to staff, students and families on March 12, notifying them of the closing. Each letter stated that at this point there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Evanston or in either school district.
The texts of both letters, which describe e-learning and other procedures, appear below.
From District 65
Dear District 65 Students and Families:
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic. This is an unprecedented situation for all of us and we feel the fear and anxiety within our community.
In collaboration with Superintendent Witherspoon at District 202, we have made the difficult decision to close District 65 schools and centers beginning on Monday, March 16, through the end of spring break (April 12). The District will implement its e-learning plan beginning Monday, March 16. All buildings will be closed to students, staff, families, and the general public during this time, with the exception of Election Day sites (March 17). All activities and events will remain canceled until further notice. This decision was made based on the facts we have regarding how COVID-19 spreads and in collaboration with public health officials.
Given that there are currently no confirmed cases in District 65 or among Evanston residents, schools will remain open tomorrow, March 13. The buildings will be closed to visitors. This will allow us with the necessary time to collaborate with educators around final plans for e-learning and to allow more time for families to make childcare arrangements. Students who do not come tomorrow will be marked as excused.
E-learning will begin for students on Monday, March 16, and a communication with specific information about what this all looks like will be forthcoming to educators and families soon. Students will not be assigned any work over spring break.
E-learning packets will be given to students who are in school tomorrow to support learning for students who have limited or no access to technology. In addition, we will have limited numbers of Chromebooks available for student check out tomorrow if there is no home device available for their use.
We recognize that these are extraordinary circumstances and the hardship of closing schools that will be felt by many families. We are working to collaborate with city officials and social service providers to seek solutions to provide food, support, and care for students and families.
This is an incredibly difficult decision yet it is being made with the health, safety, and well-being of our students, staff, families, and our most vulnerable residents. We recognize that this will present many challenges in the coming weeks and we must work collaboratively to support one another. We will be sending regular updates in the coming days via email, phone, and text message. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
With health in mind, Dr. Heidi Wennstrom, Dr. Phil Ehrhardt
Interim Superintendents of Schools
Dear ETHS Students & Families,
Based on the rapidly evolving health concerns with the coronavirus (COVID-19) and guidance of the North Cook Intermediate Service Center, ETHS District 202 is transitioning to an e-learning plan through April 12, 2020. There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at ETHS at this time. The district will not shut down, but the building will be closed to students, families, and visitors. Friday, March 13 is a regular school day. Beginning at 4:00pm Friday, March 13, all practices, events, and activities for students on the ETHS campus are canceled, except post-event season contests.*
Monday, March 16 is a non-attendance day for students. This will be a Staff Institute Day for ETHS staff.
Tuesday, March 17 begins our e-learning days. Students and teachers should check their emails for instructions. Remote learning will continue on school days until spring break.
The ETHS spring break (April 6-10) will take place and the spring break building closure information remains in place. Students will not receive e-learning assignments or homework during the break.
A deep cleaning and disinfecting session will be scheduled during the building closure. The cleaning schedule (dates/times) will be shared with staff via email.
ETHS-sponsored practices, events, and activities
All practices, events, and activities for students on the ETHS campus are canceled, except post-event season contests. Field trips are also canceled.
*The Scholastic Bowl, Speech & Debate, and Boys’ Basketball teams will finish their post-season contests as previously scheduled.
Travel and Travel Advisories
All spring break travel for ETHS-sponsored trips is canceled. School-sponsored international travel is also canceled through the summer.
ETHS is freezing approvals for any NEW travel requests for students or staff.
The Illinois State Board of Education is aware of the potential disruption to the spring testing window and is in communication with the U.S. Department of Education on this issue. Additional information on this topic will be provided as it becomes available.
Students should check their school email for a link to the required check-in form as well as any individual updates from teachers regarding expectations. For more information about e-learning days, please visit the ETHS website.
Staff should check their ETHS email for facility updates and details about work hours.
School officials will continue to work with our local health department, the Illinois Department of Public Health, and medical community partners. We will take necessary steps to ensure the safety, health, and well-being of everyone in our community.
ETHS will use the rapid notification system as well as the ETHS website to inform students, staff, and parents/guardians of any additional information. Please do not call the high school.
For updates, check the ETHS website. Any decision to reopen the ETHS building to students, families, and visitors will be made with the guidance from public health officials. We will continue to provide updates as more details develop.
For the most up-to date information about the coronavirus, visit the following websites:
Centers for Disease Control
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Illinois Department of Public Health
We appreciate your support during this challenging time.
Eric Witherspoon, Ph.D., Superintendent