District 65 Curriculum and Policy Committee discusses COVID, provides accelerated learning updates


Daily file photo by Patrick Svitek

The Evanston/ Skokie School District 65 Education Center, at 1500 McDaniel Avenue. The district committee discussed updates to its COVID-19 procedures during Tuesday’s meeting.

Olivia Alexander, Assistant City Editor

Evanston/Skokie School District 65’s Curriculum and Policy Committee discussed updates in its COVID-19 procedures and language changes to its accelerated learning policy. 

Assistant Superintendent of Student Services Romy DeCristofaro said the district is putting all large gatherings on hold and changing its bus routes to limit the number of riders on each bus. DeCristofaro said District 65 shortened its isolation and quarantine period to five days, but this change does not apply to students in early childhood programs who are under the age of 5.

“Students can return on day six (if) they are either symptom free, or their symptoms are resolving, and they have to be fever free for at least 24 hours without any fever reducing medications,” Decristofaro said. 

District 65 will also offer testing to students and staff, including those who are unvaccinated, as an alternative to quarantine. Individuals who are identified as a close contact are eligible to stay in the school if they test negative for COVID-19.

Superintendent Devon Horton said decisions to pivot to remote learning would be made by each school and in accordance with guidance from the health department.

The committee also discussed changing District 65’s board policy in alignment with the Illinois Accelerated Placement Act, which allows for the placement of the student that best matches the student’s need, even the curriculum that is usually reserved for children who are older or in higher grades than the student. 

Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction for District 65 Stacy Beardsley said the district administration hopes to update its policy on alternate placement, using phrasing better aligned with the equity goals of the district while also maintaining its adherence to Illinois law. 

“As a team, we’ve taken a look at that policy and wanted to make sure that we adjusted what was really the original language to be more in alignment with the vision of the district value of equity and to create a policy that would also support strong implementation,” Beardsley said.

David Wartowski, director of STEM for District 65, said the changes would apply to all areas of instruction. 

He said the updates were approved and supported by lawyers to accelerate learning for all students.

“One thing I’ll note in the language here is simply a recognition that acceleration is for all students and comes in many forms, for example, it starts for most students with strong instruction and curriculum,” Wartowski said.

The changes redefine alternate placement from a “program” to a specific means of accelerating the learning of a small minority of students, according to the meeting agenda packet. 

Beardsley said if a family felt their student needed accelerated learning, conversations would begin in the grade level classroom. A parent, caregiver or an educator can submit a request to have a student screened, and the District Acceleration Team will determine the outcome by May of that school year. 

More details can be found on the district’s website, Beardsley said. 

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