Education | Kane County Chronicle

Masks not required in school buildings, buses, under Kane Health Dept’s latest COVID-19 guidance

Masks will not be required on school buses or in building under the Kane County Health Department’s latest COVID-19 guidance released ahead of the new year.

They will, however, be recommended when community virus levels are high.

Under the new guidance, the health department recommended a layered approach to preventing infections and outbreaks, including vaccination, hand-washing, increased ventilation and masking when COVID-19 infection levels are high.

The health department is following the Illinois Department of Public Health and Illinois State Board of Education’s mitigation recommendations, which are based on current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The various mitigation layers are based on community spread. Universal indoor masking is one of the recommended, but not required, mitigations when levels are high. As of Wednesday, Kane County is in the “high transmission” category, according to the CDC.

The CDC earlier this year dropped its mask requirement for public and private school buses.

St. Charles School District 303 is following the IDPH guidance, and will not require masks, nor will it require social distancing of 6 feet between students. School board members unanimously approved the COVID-19 mitigation plan during a special board meeting July 25. St. Charles School District spokesman Scott Harvey said the district also is not requiring masks to be worn on school buses.

Geneva School District 304 also is following the health department and ISBE guidance — masks will not be required in buildings or on buses. However, according to the district’s COVID-19 mitigation plan, masks will be available at each school’s main office for students and staff who would like to wear one. Testing is “strongly recommended” for those with symptoms, and students who test positive for COVID-19 must stay home for a minimum of five days from symptom onset or positive test.

The district’s extracurricular activities, assemblies, evening events and field trips will continue as normal, but students who are absent from school with an illness may not participate.

Kaneland School District 302 also will follow ISBE and health department guidance. Masks will not be required on the district’s buses or schools, according to Associate Superintendent Julie-Ann Fuchs. Students who do test positive are required to stay home for five days, but will not need a negative test to return to school.

However, according to the district’s guidance, if there is a COVID-19 outbreak, the district administration will work with the health department to review mitigation strategies. The district also is investigating a SHIELD testing program, and is expected to release more information soon.

Masks will not be required on buses or in schools in Batavia School District 101, either. As of now, unvaccinated staff will be required to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing, according to district spokeswoman Holly Deitchman.

“We expect new guidance from the Kane County Health Department next Tuesday, our first day of school,” she wrote in an email. “These requirements may change at that time.”

IDPH announced Wednesday that it will provide a free, one-time shipment of more than 1 million over-the-counter rapid COVID tests to public school districts throughout the state.

The tests are being offered by request only, and the number of tests distributed to each district will be based on its size.

According to a news release from IDPH, the tests are to be provided to students with COVID symptoms for at-home use, testing anyone who may have been exposed in school or in a district’s Test to Stay program.

They are not to be used as screening tests, the release stated.

On Thursday, the CDC released updated guidance, which recommends that those who were exposed to a COVID-positive person wear a mask for 10 days and test on day five, rather than quarantine for five days.

The CDC is also no longer recommending screening tests for asymptomatic people with no known exposures.