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Illinois school district to prioritize 'Black and Brown' students for in-person learning due to limited capacity

Racial minorities will be among those prioritized when Illinois School District 65 determines who can attend classes in-person with capacity limited by COVID-19 precautions, according to the Evanston RoundTable.

Schools in the district, which includes Evanston and Skokie, will be using about 60% of their square footage and ensuring that students have the space to maintain 6 feet of space between them as much as possible. Teachers will not be forced to work from the schools, so some of them may not be available to provide in-person instruction.
That means student capacity will be limited, and if too many parents choose to send their students to school in-person instead of online, the schools will have to make decisions on who to accept and who to deny. Superintendent Devon Horton said priority will be given to "dependent learners" and "students that are marginalized."

"We are in a pandemic," Horton told the RoundTable. "And we also know that everyone is affected by this differently. But there was a pandemic before this. That was inequity and racism, and classism and all of these other things. And so I just want to make sure that as we're making a decision — no decision is going to make everyone happy — we understand that. We're trying to support every single child to the best of our ability, and we can't allow a political cash train to take over our decision-making regarding how we return our students to school.

"We have to make sure that students who've been oppressed, that we don't continue to oppress them and that we give them opportunity," Horton continued. "I've heard for quite some time that this is a community that's about equity for Black and Brown students, for special education students, for LGBTQ students. We know that this is important work, and we're going to prioritize that."
Other prioritized groups, according to Deputy Superintendent Latarsha Green, include "students receiving free or reduced lunch, Black and Brown students, students who received an [incomplete] or less than 50% on their report cards, emerging bilinguals, and students with [individualized education programs]" as well as "students who are not performing according to reading or math grade-level expectations, and students with no comorbidity factors."
School District 65 will begin its year fully online beginning Aug. 27, with plans to launch in-person classes on Sept. 29 if conditions allow. In-person classes will be Tuesday through Friday, with Monday set aside for the buildings to be thoroughly cleaned.

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