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Mask Up

Naperville District 203 to require masks regardless of vaccination status

All Naperville Unit District 203 students and staff members will be required to wear masks inside school facilities starting today, regardless of vaccination status.

The decision is based on updated guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as recommendations from local and state public health agencies, Superintendent Dan Bridges said during a school board meeting Monday.

Read more here.

Masks to be mandatory for Stevenson High students, staff

All Stevenson High School students and employees must wear masks to prevent spreading the COVID-19 virus when the 2021-22 school year begins Aug. 12.

Students at the Lincolnshire school and their parents were told of the edict in an email sent Monday night.

School officials are studying how best to space out students during lunch periods when teens will need to remove their masks, spokeswoman Jaimie Oh said.

Tents used during the 2020-21 school year have been removed, she said.

Read more here.

College of DuPage students must wear masks; vaccinations required in 2022

College of DuPage students and faculty must wear masks, even if they’re vaccinated, for the fall term starting this month.

The state’s largest community college is following U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines urging universal mask-wearing in public indoor settings in counties with substantial or high transmission of the virus.

DuPage County falls under the substantial category, with more than 70 new cases of COVID-19 reported for every 100,000 people over the last week, according to CDC metrics.

Read more here.

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214

Students at Wheeling High School and the five other high schools in District 214 won’t have to wear masks when classes resume Aug. 11.

Teachers, staff, students and visitors in District 214 schools will not be required to wear masks.

However, the district is following updated guidance from the CDC by recommending masks regardless of vaccination status.

That was the recommendation announced by Superintendent David Schuler, based on advice from legal counsel, and approved by the school board Thursday night at a special meeting.

District recommendations may change according to the COVID-19 metrics in the area.

“It is important to note that I am not recommending required, universal mask-wearing by all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools,” Schuler said. “I am recommending that we adopt the public health language from the CDC.”

This week, the CDC added a recommendation of universal indoor masking for teachers, staff, students and school visitors, regardless of vaccination status.

“I believe at the high school level that is a very prudent and responsible approach to take,” Schuler said.

During the meeting, public sentiment for the most part was against mandating mask wearing.

Read more here.

Editorial note: District 214 includes Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove, John Hersey, Prospect, Rolling Meadows and Wheeling High Schools.

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95

Lake Zurich High School graduates wore masks to their commencement ceremony on May 22. The Lake Zurich Area Unit 95 board adopted mask rules at its meeting Thursday night. If the number of new COVID-19 cases rises above 50 people per 100,000, then all students will be required to wear masks indoors. (John Starks | Staff Photographer)

Provided the number of people infected with COVID-19 remains at a low to moderate level, students at Lake Zurich Area Unit 95 schools will have some choice when it comes to wearing masks indoors under rules adopted by the school board Thursday at their meeting.

But if cases rise locally, the district would require every student to mask up regardless of vaccination status.

The plan calls for all students to receive in-classroom education but allows for families to apply for remote learning.

District mitigation efforts will vary in intensity based on the number of cases in the 60047 ZIP code. If the number of new COVID-19 cases is above 50 people per 100,000, then all students will be required to wear masks indoors.

There are currently 26.7 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000, which the plan identifies as a moderate level. Under moderate levels, masks are not required for fully vaccinated students. Grade 7 and older students who aren’t vaccinated will be encouraged to wear masks, but younger students will be required to.

Regardless of the number of COVID-19 cases in the community, all students will be required to wear masks when on school buses and during large gatherings like assemblies where social distancing would not be possible.

Read more here.

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JB Mask

People working or visiting inside a state-run building will have to wear masks again, even if they’re fully vaccinated, following an order issued Thursday by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The edict comes days after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised anyone in counties experiencing substantial or high COVID-19 exposure risk to wear masks in public indoor settings.

The governor’s order is broader and covers all facilities, regardless of the virus’ transmissibility threat in those counties, “given that the majority of the state is experiencing substantial or high COVID-19 transmission as measured by the CDC,” Pritzker said.

The move comes the same day Cook County joined DuPage, McHenry and Will counties in the Chicago area as counties with a substantial transmission risk, which is any county experiencing 50 to 99 new cases per 100,000 residents over a week’s time, according to CDC standards. High risk is 100 or more new cases per 100,000 residents.

“The safety and well-being of state employees and residents remains top priority for the state and this decision supports our efforts to provide a safe environment for our workforce and the people we serve,” said Janel L. Forde, director of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services. “Masking up is a step that we all can take to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help ensure that state facilities can continue to operate safely.”

The Cook County Department of Public Health endorsed the CDC mask recommendaton and said it will issue new guidelines Friday.

Read more here.

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BHS Sign

After a five-hour meeting Wednesday night that included dozens of comments from members of the public, the Barrington Area Unit District 220 board did not reach a consensus on a mask policy for the upcoming school year.

A crowded and five-hour Barrington Area Unit District 220 board meeting ended late Wednesday night with members unable to settle on a final policy for masks when students return to class next month.

Because the session was a special meeting, the board members could not vote on a policy had they agreed. That vote could come when the board meets again Aug. 10 — 10 days before the first day of school.

“Well, I’m disappointed,” board member Angela Wilcox said. “I was really hoping that we could come to some sort of situation to move forward. I think that we’ve seen is wishy-washy, and I know you’re saying that you’re looking for more information, but it doesn’t feel like being leaders. It seems like kicking the can.”

The board agreed earlier this month to make face masks optional in grades 6-12 and develop a plan to phase out an indoor mask requirement for students and staff in prekindergarten through fifth grade.

Superintendent Robert Hunt presented a proposal Wednesday that would make masks recommended, but not required, for the older students and implement phased approach for earlier grades. That approach would see students wearing masks when a social distance of three feet cannot be maintained.The district would then monitor local COVID-19 case data and make decisions based an that information.

Other proposed mitigation strategies include designated entrances, the use of hand sanitizer, three-foot social distancing and limited visitors in buildings. High-touch surfaces will be cleaned daily, and physical education will take place outdoors as much as possible.

Read the Daily Herald story here.

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From District 220:

“At the July 21 special Board of Education meeting, the Board and Dr. Robert Hunt, Superintendent of Schools, thanked the many community members who have reached out through emails, phone calls and public comment at Board meetings to share their perspective on COVID-19 protocols for the 2021-22 school year. In addition, Dr. Hunt expressed the importance of continuing to work together in order to move forward, and presented the Board with a plan that prioritizes in-person learning and layered mitigations.

To listen to Dr. Hunt’s presentation, click the video link above. You can also click here to view the presentation in PDF format.

The Board did not take any action at the meeting, however based on the discussion, it is anticipated that students in grades PreK-5 will begin the school year wearing masks indoors. The district will add Shield testing to obtain school based data, and develop a matrix which will inform decision making on mitigation strategies throughout the school year. The Board plans to continue the discussion at its next regularly scheduled meeting on August 10.

To date, the following decisions have been made regarding masks for the 2021-22 school year:

  • The district recommends that all students who are not fully vaccinated wear masks indoors, however students in grades 6-12 will not be required to do so.
  • ALL students will not be required to wear masks outdoors.
  • Masks will be required on buses for students and staff, regardless of vaccination status (per the Centers for Disease Control Order for Public Transportation).
  • Staff who submit proof of vaccination will not be required to wear masks indoors.

In addition, the district will have many mitigation strategies in place at all schools for the 2021-22 school year.

Click hereto view the 2021-2022 mitigation strategies

It is important to note that the CDC, IDPH and Lake County Health Department are leaving mitigation decisions up to local school districts. However, IDPH and the Lake County Health Department fully endorse the recent CDC school guidance and collectively support universal masking. Barrington 220 will continue to receive support and input from the Lake County Health Department, but the health department will not formally approve any Lake County school district plans. In addition, the district anticipates that IDPH will be releasing updated guidance for schools in the near future, which may impact these decisions. Barrington 220 continues to recognize the importance of flexibility, as guidance can quickly change based on public health data.”

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220 Mask WarBARRINGTON, Ill. (CBS) — It is a debate happening at almost every school district in the state and around the country – what to do when it comes to masking this fall.

On Wednesday night, there was no shortage of fireworks in Barrington when the issue came up. The meeting had been going on for more than four hours as of 10 p.m., and more than 60 people had signed up.

Constant interruptions and outbursts forced Barrington 220 School District board to take a recess just minutes into the meeting Wednesday night, which focused on the divisive issue of masks for COVID-19.

Some of the biggest reaction from the crowd came in response to smallest in attendance. Children chanted, “We don’t want to wear these masks,” and had the words, “Please don’t make me wear a mask,” printed on their T-shirts.

“You are simply making decisions based on your own fears,” one girl told the board.

The district is recommending masks for unvaccinated students in grades 6 through 12 grade – but they aren’t required. Kids younger than 12 who aren’t yet eligible for the vaccine will continue wearing masks.

View the CBS Chicago report here.

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BHS

The 220 Board of Education meets this evening at 6:30 PM at Barrington High School located at 616 W Main St.  A copy of their agenda can be viewed here.

Please note the agenda states the following:

“Public Comment can be made in one of two ways:

  • By 12:00 pm (noon) on July 21st leave a voicemail message at 847-842-3576. This will be played during the public comment portion of the January 21st board meeting.
  • By making a public comment in person at the meeting.

This meeting will also be transmitted virtually at bit.ly/220schoolboardlive. Please click on the July 21st meeting, which will appear on the site when the meeting actually begins.”

As “public comment averse” as some on the board are, it should not be assumed comments communicated by email or print will be accepted by this board.

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The District 220 Board met last week, and we are here to report that the wheels are coming off the Ficke-Bradford, Collister-Lazzari, Altshuler and Chan Ding, Covid “Fear Mongering Foursome” cart.

If you didn’t attend or watch the meeting(video can be viewed here), it was primarily centered on discussions on Covid Protocols for the upcoming school year. Discussions that D220 parents have anxiously been awaiting so they can decide whether they will leave their kids in the tax funded District or pull them in favor of private, charter or home schooling.

Following are our takeaways from the meeting. We are focusing on the discussions surrounding the masking of your K-5 students, as a majority of the Board gave direction to the Superintendent to come up with a Mask Optional approach for the 6-12 students.

Most disturbing was Chan Dings’ reasoning behind denying parents of grade school students the right to choose whether their children should wear a mask, citing her own fears for her unvaccinated grade school child and wanting her to have an approved vaccine prior to sending her to school without a mask:

“Those parents with kids like me, who are 11 and under, I have one who is in the process of getting vaccinated, I have one who cannot yet get vaccinated, I would like to eventually vaccinate her, but until she is vaccinated, I’m not comfortable with her not wearing a mask while she’s indoors…”

Wang clarified Chan Ding’s comments, stating your daughter can still wear a mask. Chan Ding responded:

“She can still wear a mask but she’s extra vulnerable if unvaccinated kids are around her…”

Putting aside the fact that Chan Ding promised throughout her campaign that she would be an independent voice (…and we all know how long that lasted the minute she showed obvious collusion with Ficke-Bradford, Altshuler, and Collister-Lazzari within seconds of being sworn into office to destroy the decades old tradition and sided with the 3 of them to vote Wilcox out of any officer position on the board despite her 6 years of dedicated and impeccable service to Collister-Lazzari & Altshuler’s 2 years), last we checked, one is sworn to put aside personal motivations when acting on behalf of a community while serving on a school board. Ignoring the voices of in excess of 500 for ones self-serving interests is reason alone to call for a recall of Chan Ding.

We will have to keep a very close eye on Chan Ding moving forward as it appears she is in deep doo-doo with her campaign supporters. Some communications between Chan Ding and a person named Kyla were shared by Kyla on social media and it is apparent that Chan Ding is in major back pedal mode as a result of her position at the last meeting, assuring Kyla that:

“It has been a huge help to receive emails from people with your perspective, as we were getting crushed by emails from anti-maskers… we still need to know there’s a segment of the community that’s behind us doing responsible things… The anti-maskers are incredibly well-organized… This Wednesday, there will be the opportunity to call in a voicemail or show up in person to show the Board and the media who cover the meeting that the other side is just as passionate (and I hope, more respectful).”

It’s obvious now that Chan Ding is not the independent voice she promised to be. She believes there are sides, and she has taken one. She believes that those who asked her for mask choice are “anti-maskers”. She believes that those who came before her last week to advocate on behalf of their children are disrespectful. And she has also advised Kyla that “volume matters” and to encourage people to email and show up to address the Board on a mask mandate.

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Graphic 2

Perhaps most disturbing was the very palpable orchestration by Ficke-Bradford to manipulate the votes of Altshuler, Chan Ding, and Collister-Lazzari, when they failed to be able to closely adhere to what was obviously discussed by the four of them prior to meeting.

The pre-meeting discussions were as much admitted to by Chan Ding and reinforced by her jumping in at the very beginning of the discussion to seek a “compromise”. For those not familiar with the Open Meetings Act (OMA), discussions by board members are to be held in front of the public that they represent. Any discussion outside of the public by more than 3 members is a violation of the OMA. While there are ways around this, we doubt that these members are savvy enough to adhere to them.

So, how else could Chan Ding be seeking a compromise at the beginning of the meeting unless she’d already determined that there were members who weren’t in agreement with her? It seems the “Fear Mongering Foursome” was thrown off when the Board was provided four different options to pursue:

  1. Universal Masking
  2. Non-Vaccinated Masking
  3. Phased Masking, and
  4. Mask Optional

Ficke-Bradford reinforced the coercion of the Fear Mongering Foursome, re-directing the opinions of Altshuler and Collister-Lazzari who clearly desired Non-Vaccinated Masking, repeatedly saying each time after they voiced their opinion: “…it sounds to me like you are leaning towards phased masking…” which Chan Ding was in favor of for K-5 students.

“I’m for non-vaccinated masking for 6 to 12 and for masking for elementary, and then for phased masking for all of them…” Collister-Lazzari repeatedly stated, with Ficke-Bradford re-directing, because they had already lost the 6 to 12 discussions when Chan Ding agreed to Mask Optional for those grades with Karam, Wang and Wilcox. While the crowd did become boisterous on occasion, Collister-Lazzari showed herself to be completely incapable of living in reality:

“I don’t think it’s fair to blame the school board for closing school last year… for having kids be at home… I think there was a pandemic and school was closed all over the world…”

So, the inability to open D220 schools is our fault due to Covid and not the school board that she was a member of and that voted to keep schools closed? Yet the new Superintendent came from a school district that remained open during the spring semester, so it can’t be Covid, can it?

According to Collister-Lazzari, we should be rejoicing those kids are going back to school. But she fails to mention that the decision to do so came amidst a mandate from the Illinois State Board of Education that schools return to in-person learning this fall. I think we all know where Collister-Lazzari’s vote would have been on the issue absent the mandate.

Altshuler “shared his heart…” admitting there were hundreds of emails and he was not capable of responding to all of them, in favor of Mask Optional. We know that any insinuation that there was a vocal pro-mask population out there before the meeting was false when Karam responded to Collister-Lazzari’s claim that people in favor of masking may have stayed home to attend the meeting online (as Collister-Lazzari commanded all critics of her and her band of maskers should) sharing that the BOE members had received only seven (7) communications advocating for masks compared to the countless ones requesting the BOE to make masks optional.

Altshuler, further sharing his heart, stated

“… if we say no masking, or mask optional, then I feel like we are prejudiced against the people who want to mask…”

What?! Offering a choice is a sign of prejudice? When questioned by the crowd that it was clearly not prejudicial since people would have the option, pointing out that Altshuler himself was wearing a mask at his own discretion, he responded:

“I have a mask on because I’m not feeling well and I don’t want to get everyone else sick. I’m trying to be a good citizen…”

Yet we know this ‘good citizen’ was not wearing a mask before the public meeting, having seen him walking around inside the building prior to the meeting without one. Rumor has it he didn’t have one on in closed session either.

Perhaps Altshuler was suddenly overcome with sickness when he saw that hundreds of parents and children of D220 had shown up to speak their voice on allowing mask choice to the students of D220? Whatever the cause, we know from Alshuler’s public comments during meetings and on his social media pages that he admonished people to “Stay home if unwell” and “Stay home when we are not feeling well,” so the ‘good citizen’ doc should have followed his own advice and removed himself from the meeting as soon as he was not feeling well. (See Facebook posts of Barry Altshuler – 220 School Board on January 9 and March 5, 2021).

After all, what was the point of his presence when there was no formal vote on the agenda and everyone on the Board seemed to already know that he is in favor of keeping the District, possibly the world, in masks? At one point in discussing a future meeting on the subject, the new Superintendent leaned over to Altshuler and said to him:

“Well let’s be honest, your vote is not going to change… your vote is not going to change to vote unmasked…” and our resident pediatrician responded, “I cannot get to unmasking…”

So, finally some honesty from the ‘good citizen’.

It appears that Ficke-Bradford has lost more than just control of the room (has anyone ever banged a gavel more), she has also lost control of the Fear Mongering Foursome, despite her constant attempts to re-phrase their opinions and to direct their ‘votes’ … “it sounds to me like you are leaning towards…”

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KK

Barrington School District 220 board member Katie Karam said during the board meeting July 13, 2021 she supports giving parents discretion over their children wearing masks in school. (H. Rick Bamman / Pioneer Press)

Seven-year-old Elise Corcoran stepped up before the Arlington Heights School District 25 board of education Thursday night to deliver her top five reasons why she believes students should not be required to wear masks in the classroom when the new school year begins next month.

“When it is hot in the classroom, we sweat and it sticks to our faces,” said Elise, a rising third grader at Dryden Elementary School.

“I don’t like wearing masks because they make me feel claustrophobic and that makes me feel anxious,” added Jack Mungovan, 12, a rising seventh grader at Thomas Middle School.

The pleas of Elise, Jack and the 500 parents who signed an online petition asking that masks be optional in the fall appeared to resonate with the District 25 school board, which voted unanimously Thursday night to give parents at the kindergarten through eighth grade district the choice of whether or not their children wear masks in the classroom in the fall.

Despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state health department’s recent recommendations that unvaccinated students and staff should continue wearing masks indoors to prevent the spread of the virus, District 25 is among a growing slate of suburban school districts that have passed policies this month that veer from the updated COVID-19 guidance for schools.

The updated recommendations arrive at a time when many families are enjoying the state’s loosened restrictions this summer, and some parents are determined that even unvaccinated children should be allowed the same liberties.

“We’re getting kids their freedom back,” said Marsha McClary, a mother of five children who attend Barrington Unit School District 220.

While the District 220 school board on Tuesday approved a plan that gives parents a choice about whether their middle and high school students wear masks in the classroom, officials are still discussing a “phased-in” approach for kids under 12, who are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine.

“I understand the need to still wear masks on airplanes, which is no big deal,” McClary said. “But with our kids, we’re talking about five days a week, for more than six hours a day … you can’t see their emotions and their expressions. So much learning has been lost, and it’s going to take a long time to get that back.”

Read more of the Chicago Tribune article here.

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