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220 11.16.2021

More than a dozen Barrington School District 220 parents and students urged school board members at the Nov. 16 Board of Education meeting to disregard the state’s mask mandate and make mask-wearing optional for students.

From elementary age to high school, a few students shared how the masks have been distracting in school, making it hard for them to breathe and learn. Students said they felt constricted, couldn’t see their teacher’s faces to learn a language or sing, and often couldn’t hear their teachers in class.

Parents questioned COVID-19 infection rate metrics and wondered out loud why Illinois is among states in the country still requiring masks. Many of the 16 people who commented during the public comment portion of the meeting recommended the board ignore the governor’s executive order and the Illinois State Board of Education’s mask mandates, suggesting there would not be consequences.

“Not being able to see my peers’ faces has put me at a disadvantage,” a Barrington High School senior told the board Nov. 16, adding he feels like he’s entering a “dark cloud” when he arrives at school.

The teen said he often meets with peers outside of school without masks and feels like he’s living in two different worlds.

“I feel like I have a muzzle on,” he said. “I’m here to implore you to have a mask option, freeing the students.”

Read more here.

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220 Board 2021

The District 220 Board of Education meets this evening at 7:00 PM at the District Administration Center, 515 W. Main Street.  A copy of the agenda can be viewed here.

The meeting will be livestreamed on the district YouTube channel.

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New BOE

The District 220 Board of Education meets this evening at 7:00 PM at the District Administration Center, 515 W. Main Street.  A copy of the agenda can be viewed here.

The meeting will be livestreamed on the district YouTube channel.

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BHS

The District 220 Board of Education meets tomorrow evening at 7:00 PM at Barrington High School located at 616 W Main St.  A copy of their agenda can be viewed here.

Please note the following taken from the 220 website (typos corrected):

“The Barrington 220 school district will be adhering strictly to its policies and procedures and will exercise its authority ensuring people can express their opinions uninterrupted during public comment and the Board of Education can conduct business appropriately.

Please note that due to Governor Pritzker’s order regarding all school buildings, face coverings are required. All Public Comments must be made in person and will be limited to 2 minutes.

This meeting will also be transmitted virtually at bit.ly/220schoolboardlive. Please click onthe August 10th meeting, which will appear on the site when the meeting actually begins.”

You may email your thoughts to the board using this link.

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District 220 Superintendent Robert Hunt

August 4, 2021

“Dear Barrington 220 Community,

My hope is that this communication finds you well and that you are enjoying time with friends and family as we proceed towards the opening of school. We are excited to welcome back students in grades 1-12 and Barrington Transition Center students on Friday, August 20, as well as our kindergarten and early childhood students on Tuesday, August 24. Schools and communities across the country have struggled to balance the health and safety challenges of COVID-19 with the important development of children academically, socially and emotionally. We celebrate the fact that we will be returning for full in-person learning, 5 days a week this fall.

This afternoon Governor Pritzker announced a statewide mask mandate for all K-12 schools. This means Barrington 220 will begin the school year with universal masking for all staff and students in grades PK-12+, regardless of vaccination status. Masks will remain optional when students and staff are outdoors.

As a parent and Superintendent of Schools, I appreciate and understand the challenges of the numerous changes that have occurred over the last 18 months. The words “flexibility” and “ability to pivot” have all too often equated to a change in the learning environment for our students. Keeping students at school for in-person learning is a priority as we transition into the 2021-22 school year.

The district administrative team has been working on the development of a matrix based on community and school-based data that may be used to inform mitigation decisions moving forward. This work will continue, as it will be critical information to guide decisions when we have the ability to make them locally. We will share a draft of the matrix, as well as an overview of all mitigation strategies that will be in place for the opening of school at the Board of Education meeting on August 10 at 7pm at Barrington High School.

It is important to remember how far we have come, as one year ago many students remained at home for virtual learning. We must recognize that although there are varying opinions, success lies in our ability to have all of our students in person working with the amazing Barrington 220 staff. Our children have always looked to the adults in their lives in times of uncertainty, and it is important that we provide a calming presence as we head into this school year. I appreciate your ongoing support and look forward to welcoming our students and staff back soon.”

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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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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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220 7.13

At the often intense Barrington School District 220 school board meeting July 13, 2021, district parents and other stakeholders showed their support for the district not mandating students wear masks in school. (H. Rick Bamman / Pioneer Press)

The Barrington School District 220 board announced Tuesday night that the district will not require students in grades 6 through 12 to wear masks when they return to school next month for the new academic year, and will further discuss a phased-in approach to eliminate face covering requirements for students in pre-K to fifth grade.

Board members also agreed the district would not require masks to be worn outdoors for any students. Masks, considered personal protective equipment, were previously mandated by federal and state public health officials in all public places as a result of the novel coronavirus – and it’s COVID-19 disease – pandemic.

“I believe it’s time to return risk management back to parents,” recently-elected school board member Katie Karam said at the meeting Tuesday night. She started the discussion and was cheered by the audience.

The almost four-hour board meeting Tuesday saw more than 100 people in the audience, some often shouting at board members and demanding that no masks be required of students for the new school year. A few young school children held up “Follow the science: Unmask the kids” signs from Unmaskthekidsillinois.org, a grassroots organization started in Winnetka whose supporters are collectively “concerned with how local mask mandates were adversely affecting their young children,” according to its website.

Some SD220 parents who spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting shared data they said demonstrates that younger children are not at risk of catching COVID-19.

“We’re here today to end mask mandates for the upcoming school year and make sure that unvaccinated adults and children are not discriminated against in our district,” said Danny Olsen, who has three children enrolled in district schools and was among more than 30 who spoke during the meeting.

Read the full Barrington Courier-Review take on Tuesday’s meeting here.

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