Evanston/Skokie District 65 Superintendent Devon Horton asked for the School Board’s support in requiring that all District 65 employees provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination by Oct. 15 or submit documentation to the Superintendent for a medical or religious exemption, no later than Sept. 15.

At Monday night’s District 65 School Board meeting, the Board voted unanimously to support the vaccination mandate.

In prepared remarks, Dr. Horton outlined vaccine requirements for District employees: Beginning Sept. 15, all District employees will be tested for COVID-19 a minimum of once a week until Oct. 15. Employees with an approved medical or religious exemption will continue to be tested at least once a week for the duration of the school year. Failure to comply with the vaccination mandate will have employment repercussions, Dr. Horton said, explaining that “employees who do not provide documentation showing full vaccination or do not have an approved exemption by Oct. 31 of 2021 will be deemed ineligible to work and will not be paid until they provide the District with documentation of full vaccination or determined to be exempt,” with potential disciplinary action upon return. In addition, it will be required that “any consultants that visit our campus and physically are located in any of our schools or buildings also show proof of vaccination,” he said. More details for on-campus care providers and consultants will be provided soon.

Dr. Horton further clarified that parents do not have to show proof of vaccination, but to limit the number of visitors to school buildings, they are encouraged to take advantage of remote opportunities for parent-teacher meetings. Parents are also encouraged to upload photos of their students’ vaccination cards to the CrisisGo. For security purposes, only District Human Resources personnel will be able to view vaccine information. As Board member Elisabeth “Biz” Lindsay-Ryan summarized, “if your child is vaccinated, you want to provide proof of that vaccination so that your child does not need to quarantine should there be a case” among their friends or contacts. Proper mask-wearing will continue to be mandatory in every District building and school.

Although previously scheduled for Monday’s meeting, the District 65 vaccination mandate coincides with the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, for individuals 16 and older, earlier in the day. District 65 is partnering with the City of Evanston Health and Human Services Department to host a free COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Joseph E. Hill Education Center. First doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be administered on Saturday, Aug. 28th and second doses on Saturday, Sept. 18th. Registration is open to all Evanston residents 12 and older, with a parent or legal guardian for those under 18, Skokie residents enrolled in a District 65 school and all District 65 staff. Spanish assistance is available at 847-448-4311.

More to come on District 65’s protocols for safely welcoming students on Wednesday, with many topics addressed in a comprehensive list of 2021-22 School Year FAQs.

Bessie Mbadugha

Bessie N. A. Mbadugha took a hiatus from her previous life as a Chemistry professor to devote more time to her family, and became an active leader in numerous community initiatives in Hillsborough, North...