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Below is the Oct. 30 letter of Superintendent Devon Horton in which he announces his decision to defer opening schools for in-person learning to January 19, 2021:
Dear District 65 Community –
Thank you for your continued patience during these trying times. We are still seeing a very concerning rise in test positivity rate across the country, regionally, and right here in Evanston/Skokie. Last Friday, Mayor Hagerty issued a community message that articulated how the situation is unfolding even in our own backyard. I regret that the numbers have only gotten worse since then. As of today’s reporting by the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Region 10 test positivity 7-day rolling average was up to 8.6% and the daily test positivity is 11%. Based on guidance from leading health experts, we know this is a strong indicator of community spread.
As part of our core values, along with health and safety, we remain committed to transparency in our decision making. With public health conditions continuing to decline and additional mitigation measures currently in effect in Evanston/Skokie and across our region, it is not safe to welcome back hundreds of children and staff members for in-person learning as of November 16.
Unless conditions drastically improve in the next week, this will impact the return plans as previously outlined. We have communicated that decisions would be made regarding in-person learning for the following trimester. We cannot wait until the start of the third trimester for the next possibility of student return. Therefore, if health conditions improve and it is safe to do so, our proposed return date is now January 19, 2021. This date will allow for a 14-day quarantine after winter break when many travel and attend gatherings.
Our commitment has and will continue to be opening our schools and welcoming back our students and staff when it is safe to do so. Prior to the fall break, we will share an updated plan that defines what return looks like in January. This is largely contingent on staff who are able to return in person and we will have this information tomorrow. After winter break, we anticipate additional staff returning in-person which will increase the number of students that can be accommodated for an in-person return.
We know that this news feels disappointing to some. And yet, this global pandemic is the most significant public health crisis of our time. We cannot expect school or our lives to look or feel “normal” especially under current conditions. I am proud of the way our community has stood together and navigated the unprecedented challenges that we face in the wake of COVID-19. And, I appreciate the flexibility of our staff, students, and families to adapt to changing health conditions, changing plans, and evolving guidance.
IDPH Regional Metrics (be sure to select Region 10)
IDPH County Level Metrics (be sure to select Cook County)IDPH County and School Metrics (be sure to select Cook County)
District 65 Metrics for Re-opening and Re-exit
With health in mind,
Dr. Devon Horton