(The Center Square) – Some Illinois school districts, including Chicago Public Schools, will require masking for students this fall.
Children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine which has prompted many school districts are implementing a mask-wearing policy for the 2021-22 school year.
The decisions from school districts throughout the state have been in response to the CDC and the Illinois Department of Health releasing new safety guidelines.
The new IDPH guidelines advise Illinoisans that masks should be worn indoors by all people over the age of 2 who are not fully vaccinated. CDC also recommends schools maintain at least 3 feet of distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask-wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated.
Dr. Donald K. Brown, a pediatrician for Northwestern Medicine, said masking will help in reducing the spread of covid-19 in Illinois schools.
“The best intervention we have had for covid has been masking, it’s clear,” Brown said. “Many people might not want to hear that but masking has been the best answer so far.”
Brown also talked about how many school districts need to take a look at the COVID-19 metrics within their district because some areas and counties have handled the pandemic differently.
“You need to take into consideration what is going on in your school district or township,” Brown said. “If your area within your district is not at herd immunity, then you still need to be cautious.”
State Sen. Jill Tracy has been against masking in schools and said in a letter to the Illinois State Board of Education that masking should be left up to the student and their parents.
“Following the State Board’s decision to extend the in-person student mask mandate, I have spoken to several school administrators and dozens of parents who have expressed concern over this decision,” Tracy said. “A few school boards in my district have also passed resolutions that voice their collective displeasure over the continuance of this mandate and urge ISBE to rescind it.”
The Illinois Education Association President Kathi Griffin released this statement regarding the new guidance.
“We are very excited that the Illinois Department of Public Health has decided to adopt the Centers for Disease Control’s guidance for schools,” Griffin said. “Both agencies are correct that vaccines are the best way to keep students and staff safe and for those who can’t get vaccinated, wearing a mask is the next best option.”