Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced Wednesday that face masks will be required indoors at all public preschool and K-12 schools in the state regardless of vaccine status. The news, weeks before the school year begins, comes as the Delta variant of COVID-19, significantly more contagious, surges in parts of the country and vaccination rates stagnate.
DeKalb County last week was designated by the CDC as having a “substantial” risk for community transmission spurred by the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19. The CDC reported as of July 31, Delta accounts for the majority, more than 83%, of new U.S. virus cases. The DeKalb County Health Department last week also issued new guidance urging everyone to return to universal indoor masking, with fewer than 40% of the county’s eligible population not fully vaccinated as cases rise again.
Sycamore and Genoa-Kingston superintendents confirmed Wednesday the districts, which previously approved optional masking, will now comply with the new mandate, reversing previous optional mask policies. DeKalb District 428 on Tuesday approved a near-unanimous measure to require masks in district buildings, the largest district in the county to do so prior to the mandate.
We asked DeKalb County parents what they think of Pritzker’s mask edict. Here are some of their responses:
“One of my children is special needs with health issues, and needs to stay safe till the vaccine is available to their age group. My other child will be in 5th grade and will not have an problem wearing a mask all day. If it keeps people safe, we will continue to mask up for the time being.” - Brenda Perkins, Sycamore District 427
“I asked my 16 year old how he felt. He is vaccinated. He said ‘I think we should wear them, it will help keep everyone safe.’ And this is a kid who is deaf and uses cochlear implants, and relies a lot on reading lips...and he says yes to wearing masks. I’m proud of him.” - Kristie White, DeKalb District 428
“I believe the only compromise and best chance at peace in our district is to maintain masks optional so parents/staff can make the choice that is best for their family. I work in healthcare and understand the impact of [COVID-19]. I also served my country in the military overseas to defend our freedoms. Mask mandates [...] are an over-reach to put it mildly.” - Dawn Marshall, a nurse anesthesiologist who wrote a letter to Sycamore District 427 school board
“I support this. Until vaccines are available to all age groups this is the best way to prevent the spread of a very real, and very contagious virus. We should do everything we possibly can to protect our children. Better safe than sorry.” - Kerry Stevanovich Ralls, Sycamore District 427
“My son (7) is so excited to go back he doesn’t care what he has to wear. As a working mom last year was pretty much impossible for us. I’m happy he actually gets to attend school this year and will do anything possible to make it happen!” - Brandie Anderson, parent of a Malta Elementary student, DeKalb District 428
“I think requiring masks is silly. Because if the child refuses to wear it they are sent home from school. Children have their own thoughts on it and my kids honestly hate them especially my asthmatic son . They have to wear them in gym class and get harped at when they take them down for some air. They already screen the students take temp, monitor if they aren’t feeling well.” - Katherine Bellante, DeKalb District 428
“100% support masks in school. It’s irresponsible not to, until kids under 12 can be vaccinated. My kiddo hasn’t been In school since we first started e learning. She is so excited to finally see her friends. I think it’s the parents with the problem, not the kids.” - Katy Lee, DeKalb District 428
“I don’t support this. I think it should be a personal choice. Plus small children need to see facial expressions and mouth movements for proper development.” - Danielle Choate, parent of local homeschoolers in kindergarten and first grade who said she chose to homeschool because of the pandemic mask debate.
“I support this. My son is too young to be vaccinated and this well help ease our minds when we send him to school. I would have serious reservations about sending him to school if masks are optional.” - Holly Nicholson, DeKalb District 428
“Not going to cry over masks! It’s fine, they have been doing it this long. Just please don’t go back to half days!!” - Tessa Mayne, DeKalb District 428
Responses are lightly edited for length and clarity.