Evanston Township High School

Masks Now Required at Evanston Township High School as COVID Cases Rise

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An uptick in COVID cases in the city of Evanston has led officials at Evanston Township High School to now require masks for all staff, students and visitors in school buildings -- regardless of vaccination status -- effective Monday, the school said Sunday.

Previously, masks inside the school were only "highly recommended."

The updated mask requirement comes three days after the city announced that its community COVID level had increased from 'medium' to "high," the highest level of alert, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"On May 13, the Evanston Health and Human Services Department communicated that it elevated the COVID-19 Community Risk Level from Medium to High, based on weekly Evanston metrics and the combination of three metrics per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," a statement from the school read.

"In response to the updated High COVID-19 Community Risk Level status and guidance from the Evanston Health and Human Services Department, as well as in alignment with CDC recommendations, ETHS will be transitioning from masks highly recommended to masks required in the building beginning tomorrow, Monday, May 16."

Masks are expected to be worn in all paces inside the school including hallways, restrooms, and during passing periods, the announcement continued.

The mask requirement only applies to Evanston Township High School.

A letter from Evanston/Skokie School District 65 superintendent Dr. Devon Horton says the district is strongly recommending masks, and some classrooms may require them as COVID cases rise.

"While masks indoors are not required for the general District 65 community (except at Park), we still strongly recommend that they continue to be worn, especially when distancing cannot be maintained," the letter says.

"As advised by our local health departments, it may be necessary to require masks as a preventative measure in some circumstances. Masks may temporarily be required in certain classrooms, school buses, or even grade levels if we are seeing increased COVID-19 cases or evidence of transmission."

City of Evanston metrics Friday showed 397 new COVID cases were reported over a seven day period, compared to 305 the week prior.

According to local health officials, once Evanston reaches more 200 new COVID cases per 100,000 people over a week time frame, community level transitions to high.

Local Evanston health officials say nearly 90 percent of residents over 5 years old are vaccinated.

According to Cook County Department of Public Health, cases in Suburban Cook County are rising, but the county as a whole remains at the 'medium' community risk level.

Chicago's COVID risk level currently sits at "medium".

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