ETHS reinstates indoor mask requirement for all students and staff

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Daily file photo by Jorge Melendez

Evanston Township High School. ETHS students and staff are required to wear masks indoors beginning May 16.

Jorja Siemons, City Editor

Evanston Township High School reinstated its requirement for students and staff to wear masks indoors on Sunday. 

The new mandate, enacted on Monday, follows a Feb. 28 decision to lift a previous mandate and replace it with “mask choice.” The mandate applies to all community members regardless of vaccination status. Masks must again be worn everywhere inside the school building, including in hallways and restrooms. 

While masks can be “removed briefly” to eat food, they must be immediately put back on while chewing and swallowing. Students will be reminded to properly mask if they are not doing so, and the announcement said “additional intervention” will be provided as needed. 

ETHS District 202 cited guidance from the city’s Health and Human Services Department as the rationale behind the move to transition from “highly recommending” masks to mandating them.

The school also cited three national metrics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: new hospital admissions over the past seven days, percentage of inpatient beds occupied by patients with COVID-19 and the total number of cases per 100,000 residents in the past seven-day period. 

Evanston’s COVID-19 community risk level reached a “high” transmission level last week due to recent high caseloads. The city reported a seven-day average of 56.71 new confirmed cases on May 13. City staff released a set of updated mitigation recommendations last week, urging residents to mask up indoors and socialize outdoors. 

According to the ETHS COVID-19 Dashboard, 36 positive cases were reported among students and 16 among staff on May 16 — compared to 29 and six, respectively, one week earlier. 

Sunday’s announcement directed parents to contact the ETHS Nurse’s Office if their child tests positive. The school also continues to urge community members to stay home if they have symptoms including a sore throat, loss of sense of smell and fever, according to the release.

ETHS also advocated for students and staff to get vaccinated and boosted. According to the COVID-19 Dashboard, 3,518 students and 655 staff members had submitted proof of vaccination by May 16. 

Sunday’s announcement said ETHS will provide updates as they become available regarding COVID-19 measures. ETHS’ last day of school is May 27.

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @JorjaSiemons

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