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The following is Superintendent Devon Horton’s Update on COVID-19 and reopening plans:
“As we head into the long weekend, our community will come together in various ways to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Let his birthday not just be about celebration but a day of reflection and action as we continue our courageous advocacy for racial and social justice within our community and world. Please see my weekly update below on COVID-19 and reopening plans.
D65 Medical Advisory
We convened our formal medical advisory this week to further discuss the science and safety behind the safe reopening of schools. This was a truly diverse group of medical professionals representing various disciplines, from both within and outside of our community, and all with first-hand experience dealing with COVID-19. Our group also included leaders representing our five bargaining groups, parents, and district administrators. I am profoundly grateful for this group’s willingness to share their time and their collective expertise. A list of participants is posted on our website.
The conversation was rich having discussed the current COVID-19 landscape both regionally and here in Evanston/Skokie, health metrics, mitigation measures, and the data and research on school reopenings. Health guidance and mitigation measures have evolved over time and we now have more data and insight than ever. While we know there is not one right answer, we know there is a right way in moving forward. This includes following the emerging science so that our decisions are informed and reflective of current conditions. Our collaboration and conversations with our medical advisory will be ongoing.
As a leadership team, we are continuing to digest all of the information and resources from our hours of conversation this week. I feel confident that we will have the information needed to make an informed decision regarding the launch of our hybrid learning model and associated metrics. As promised, an update will be shared Wednesday, January 20.
In-Person COVID-19 Mitigation Measures
One of the key takeaways for me in our conversations with our medical advisory this week was the importance of taking a layered approach to reopening schools. This requires the monitoring of health metrics along with the implementation of mitigation measures. Mitigation measures are the steps we are taking to keep our students and staff safe and protect against the spread of COVID-19 in our schools. We can’t consider metrics or mitigation in isolation.
The doctors on the advisory commended our district on the robust mitigation measures and the preparation of our schools for in-person learning. These include a combination of facility preparations (like distancing of student desks and improving ventilation), health protocols (like requiring masks and allowing extra time for handwashing), with operational considerations (like reducing in-person class sizes and extra cleaning measures).”