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Lauds Dr. Horton’s leadership in creating group for D65; cites Witherspoon’s January pledge
To protect the health of Evanston Township High School’s students, teachers and staff – especially the most vulnerable – the Coalition to Reopen Evanston Schools today called on District 202 to create a Medical Advisory Group to consult on how the reopening of Evanston Township High School can be done safely.
“We hope and believe that District 202 intends to reopen ETHS, and we want the administration to have the best medical and scientific advice available – from a diverse group of providers from the community – on how to do it safely,” said Dr. Valerie A. Kimball, M.D., an Evanston pediatrician and Coalition member.
“The science of reopening schools for in-person learning is now well established. We owe it to the ETHS students, teachers, and staff – especially the most vulnerable – to get it right. There are numerous medical professionals from across Evanston who are eager to help,” Dr. Kimball added.
On January 8, 2021, in an “E-Town LIVE” segment, ETHS District 202 Superintendent Eric Witherspoon said, “We have made a commitment that we will do everything we can to go to the hybrid model sometime yet this semester.”
Taking dr. Witherspoon at his word, the Coalition stressed the importance of preparing properly and taking a science-based approach to protecting those who are most vulnerable. The Coalition noted that District 65 Superintendent Dr. Devon Horton successfully created a Medical Advisory Board for Evanston’s K-8 schools.
Dr. Horton’s leadership and foresight in creating what he described as “a diverse team of medical professionals who represent various disciplines, work both within and outside of our community, and all with firsthand COVID-19 experience” could serve as a template for District 202, the Coalition noted.
ETHS could also learn from Oak Park River Forest High School, which is 46 percent nonwhite with 21 percent economically disadvantaged students, on how to ensure that a hybrid model is adopted in a way that protects those who are most at risk.
“The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have provided guidelines for safe school reopening. The metrics indicate that ETHS can safely reopen for in-person hybrid classes using universal masking and social distancing,” said Dr. Sarah Pressman Lovinger, an Evanston physician and Coalition member.
“The science makes it clear – as the CDC has stated – that in-person learning in schools is not associated with substantial community transmission. Additionally, it is becoming more and more clear that closing schools is harmful to students,” added Dr. Eric Chehab, an Evanston physician and Coalition member.
The Coalition noted that the precise nature of and practices surrounding District 202’s “in person experiences” remain unclear to many ETHS parents. District 202’s abrupt and unexplained decision to cancel a February 24 webinar regarding the “in person experiences” raises concerns that the activities are not meaningful or well-organized.