Chicagoland schools grapple with mask requirement for students

Coronavirus

Barrington School District 220 votes in favor of no mask for some students, CPS still evaluating

CHICAGO – School for the fall semester is on the horizon but the debate of whether or not students will be required to wear mask coverings rages on.

School districts continue to formalize policies on mask-wearing for teachers and students, grappling to what extent, if at all, should students be made to wear masks for the fall 2021 semester.

After a spirited board meeting last night at Barrington School District 220, the decision was made to not require students in grades six through 12 to wear masks for the new academic school year indoors or out.

Further discussion will take place moving forward for students in pre-K to 5th grade.

“We feel it’s appropriate to return our child’s freedoms for something that really isn’t affecting them,” says Marsha McClary, a Barrington School District 220 parent with five kids in grades from 2nd to sophomore year. However, she and many others in the 220 District are not in favor of making kids wear masks. 

A letter sent home to Chicago Public Schools parents on the issue said in part: “We are waiting on additional guidance from federal and state agencies on important issues such as social distancing and masking requirements, and we will share that information with you as soon as we have it. For now, we want to make sure you know that CPS is prepared to safely offer in-person instruction five days a week this fall.”

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came out with updated guidelines saying unvaccinated teachers and students should continue to mask up all those who are vaccinated can leave them at home.

Additionally, at the state level, the Illinois Department of Public Health’s position added that the final decision is now up to individual districts that serve parents, such as Marsha McClary and her family.

She hopes the policy regarding younger kids will be the same.

“We feel there should not be age discrimination for K-5 and they should have mask optional,” she said.

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