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The debate on whether students should wear masks in schools has intensified in many suburban school districts.

The state says it’s in line with the CDC, which recommended masks for anyone not fully vaccinated. Yet, some district parents say they disagree.

For Peter Demos, the discourse over masks in schools strikes a chord. As a parent, he believes districts should control the conversation. 

“It’s kind of heartbreaking because you want to do what’s best for your child,” the Lake Zurich District parent said.

“At this point, I think there should be a choice with 18 months into the pandemic. There’s enough data out there and scientific studies that could make an agreement for both sides of this debate.” 

In a letter this week to Governor JB Pritzker, Lake Forest superintendent Matthew Montgomery said in part, “We both know there is no one-size-fits-all solution for this pandemic.

“I respectfully request that you please return local decision-making to Illinois schools for the 2021-2022 school year.” 

“I think it’s so important that students have the choice whether they want to mask or not mask,” said Allison Graf, a Lake Forest District parent.

At this week’s Lake Forest District 115 school board meeting, parents and students overwhelmingly supported a local choice. 

“To all of a sudden require masks or certain restrictions of putting them on our kids to be allowed to go into the building is just asinine,” Graf said.

For its part, the state board of education says it will follow CDC guidance, which means requiring masks for those not fully vaccinated — and recommending at least three feet distance between students in classrooms— unless it’s a barrier to learning. 

“You’re trying to be a concerned parent and make the best decision you can for your kids,” Demos said.

Demos sees both sides but is cautious when it comes to his 9 and 11-year-old students, neither of whom can get the vaccine because of their age. 

“Kids get it. They understand it’s serious,” Demos said. “They want to make their parents happy. They want to make their teacher happy. They want to play with their friends. I think these kids are very resilient and we need to give them a lot more credit.”

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