School District 65 Defers Return to In-Person Learning to Jan. 19, 2021

This afternoon, Superintendent Devon Horton announced that unless conditions drastically improve next week, School District 65’s schools will not open for in-person learning on Nov. 16. He said, “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.” 

In a letter to the District 65 community, Dr. Horton said, “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.

“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 [Suburban Cook County] 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.”

Dr. Horton added, “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.” 

The District 65 School Board did not discuss the decision to defer in-person learning in a public meeting.

The full text of Dr. Horton’s letter is available here.


Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...