District 200 parents protest optional mask-wearing decision for upcoming school year

Chicago News

WHEATON, Ill. — With the first day of school for suburban District 200 looming on August 23, some parents in the district are upset about the district’s decision to make mask-wearing optional for the upcoming school year.

“My superintendent is arrogant enough to believe it is OK to roll the dice with the lives of our children, and that is unacceptable,” Wheaton parent Ronak Maisuria said.

On Wednesday night, Wheaton’s Community Unit School District 200 board adopted the superintendent’s recommendation to make masks optional and a parent’s choice for all grade levels.

For some parents, the choice is not clear when children under 12 are still unable to get vaccinated.

“I was really surprised they had this statement that it’s the parent’s choice. For me, I felt like it’s not a parent’s choice until I can vaccinate my kids,” parent Andrea Geigner said.

Geigner’s 6-year-old son Luke and 4-year-old son Rory will both attend Wiesbrook Elementary School this year.

She and other parents are concerned about the contagious Delta variant rapidly spreading, worrying the disease can take over classrooms of unmasked and unvaccinated children.

Both DuPage and Kane counties have been red-flagged by Illinois health officials for rising COVID-19 hospitalizations over seven of the last 10 days, nearly all of which involve unvaccinated patients.

With the start of the school year soon approaching, districts are now making decisions on mask-wearing.

Earlier this week, the McHenry Elementary School District 15 made masks optional for students and staff regardless of vaccination status, while Barrington 220 School District voted to make masks optional for grades 6-12.

While Wheaton parents are calling on Governor JB Pritzker to step in, he has long left COVID-19 mitigation decisions up to local school districts. Parents are now hoping the board will change their minds.

“I’m hoping we’ll have something good to come of this and have the district listen and make these masks something the kids will wear and ultimately keep them safe,” Geigner said.

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