Masks will be required at the start of the upcoming school year for Naperville School District 203 students.
At last night’s meeting, the board of education voted to follow CDC and IDPH recommendations and require universal masking while indoors. Students, teachers, staff, and visitors will need to wear masks regardless of vaccination status.
“It’s our goal to ensure that all students have an opportunity to remain in person and to reduce the amount of time a student may need to miss in person instruction,” said Superintendent Dan Bridges. “Our current plans aligns with the most recent guidance that emphasize a safe, in person instruction.”
Bridges said the district’s decision could be updated with changing conditions. The district monitors vaccination coverage, the positivity rate, and level of community transmission to determine which mitigation strategies should be implemented. DuPage County is currently at the substantial level.
“DuPage County Health Department indicated that universal mask wearing should continue in schools until all school-aged children are eligible for a vaccine and a majority are vaccinated against COVID-19,” said Bridges.
Children under 12 are not yet eligible for the vaccine. Before this decision was shared, many community members came out for public comment.
Emergency physician Dr. Liz Brown was one speaker.
“Science also says that even if your child isn’t sick enough to be hospitalized, they are at risk for long-haul COVID,” said Brown. “I read a very recent study that came out that said more than half of kids who have COVID who are not sick enough to be hospitalized initially do end up with symptoms of long-haul COVID 120 days after their initial illness.”
One parent said she believes students in preschool through second grade, those with special needs, and English Language Learners are impacted most by wearing a mask.
“I also understand that there are many risks and benefits regarding kids wearing masks in school. But at this point and time there has been so much research that shows children are the least likely to have severe cases or die from COVID,” said District 203 parent Melissa Lee. “While that percentage is extremely small, children in the groups I mentioned are however the most likely to experience the most damage from having to wear masks in school.”
The 2021-2022 school year will be in person five days a week with lunch for all students.
The full board of education meeting can be found here.
Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.
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