Parents of children in Evanston / Skokie School District 65 were emailed Friday afternoon that school would be canceled on Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week.
The letter from Superintendent Devon Horton blamed a staff shortage and lack of substitutes for the decision and said the 2021-2022 school year would have to be extended by two days due to the cancellations.
Here is the text of the letter:
Dear District 65 Congregation,
As we are going into the weekend, I would like to inform you as early as possible that the school will have to be canceled next week on Monday 22 November and Tuesday 23 November. There will be no school for all PreK-8 grades students in District 65. Students and staff will be returning on Monday, November 29, after the fall break.
This decision was made in the interests of both the safety and the mental health of our team. Based on the numbers received today, we don’t have sufficient staffing or underfunding to provide the necessary care or support high quality learning next week. We believe this is because educators and auxiliaries need to rest and focus on mental health and take care of their own families as well.
Even with the use of subs and employees from headquarters, we would not have anywhere near adequate coverage, nor could we operate safely in accordance with the health guidelines for pandemics. We understand that this news is difficult and could get working families into trouble. To support families, we have proactively connected with our childcare providers and community partners to see if we could coordinate the services. Unfortunately, this is not feasible as they also have staff shortages and have raised other concerns.
In addition, our nutrition service team coordinates the food distribution for the students. For all D65 students in Chute, Haven and Nichols, meals worth several days will be available for collection on Monday, November 22, from 8:30 am to 10:30 am
As a result of this decision, it will be necessary to extend the school year 21-22 by two days of classes. The last day of school for K-8 students is now Wednesday, June 8th, until no additional emergency days are used. The last day for JEH students is June 6th.
We know this is very difficult and we hope that our community can both respect and understand the unique circumstances of this situation and those we all continue to face. We know that our employees, families and students all do their best. Stress leads to burnout and people juggle personal and professional commitments and a variety of challenges catalyzed by the pandemic. As an organization, we must acknowledge this and support those directly responsible for the learning and care of our students, and give them the time and opportunity.
I hope this announcement gives our co-workers and families an opportunity to make the necessary arrangements. Thank you for your understanding and support.
Dr. Devon Horton