Wearing a mask will be optional for students at Indian Prairie School District 204 (D204) this fall, a decision announced by school officials at last night’s board of education meeting.
Masks Recommended But Not Required
However the district is recommending students wear masks. Deputy Superintendent at D204 Doug Eccarius said the district would be using Northwestern Zip Code Data to monitor COVID-19 transmission rates to determine if masks would ever be required.
“When we move into the yellow, which is above 5% getting close to 8%, we may decide to require [masks] if we’re seeing a large amount of quarantines happening or see other things that are concerning in the district and need to add a mitigation level,” said Eccarius. “We do see if continues to get above 8% that we would be turning to masks [being required].”
Eccarius added that the district Fall Opening Plan is based on current guidance from the CDC, Illinois Department of Public Health, and the Illinois State Board of Education, and that district plans are subject to change if the guidance does.
Parents who showed up last night had mixed feelings about their children wearing a mask at school this fall.
Cheryl Borrowdale, a district parent and a teacher, said masking helps an educator’s primary goal, to educate students.
“Masking allows kids to stay in school, allows our schools to stay open, allows fewer kids to be put into quarantine where they are then missing days of their education and that is our primary goal as educators [and] as a district,” said Borrowdale.
She added that the second goal of a district should be the safety of students and argued masks would create a safer environment.
Tony Bellagamba, who is also a district parent, did not argue Borrowdale’s point, but said he simply wants the option of sending his kids to school with or without a mask.
“We’re not the people who feel like there are microchips in vaccines, we’re just saying it should be our choice,” said Bellagamba. “We believe there are benefits to the kids being unmasked. Whether it’s seeing facial expressions to have better social interactions. Or like my child, who has speech problems being able to have better speech, or the uncleanliness of a mask. We believe there are reasons that being unmasked is better than being masked.”
The district said masks would still be required when riding on a school bus. They added more layers of protection against COVID-19 may be used if transmissions levels increase.
A full presentation of last night’s board of education meeting can be found on D204’s YouTube page.
Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.
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