Gov. JB Pritzker on Wednesday announced a new statewide mask mandate for all Illinois schools – preschool through Grade 12 – and daycares, after “far too few school districts” across the state decided to follow federal health guidance.
The mask mandate, which takes effect immediately, brings the state in line with U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control guidance that says teachers and students older than age 2 need to wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
“Far too few school districts have chosen to follow the federal Centers for Disease Control prescriptions for keeping students and staff safe ...,” Pritzker said. “I had hoped that a state mask requirement in schools wouldn’t be necessary, but it is.”
Pritzker also said that all high school athletes will have to wear masks during indoor practice and competition, while coaches and athletes in outdoor sports will not have to wear them because the rate of outdoor transmission of COVID-19 is low.
The Kane County Chronicle asked local parents about their thoughts on the mask requirement, and here are some of the responses:
“I do not support mandatory masks in schools. I feel it should be up to the families to decide if your children should wear a mask or not. Having a mask on all day eight hours a day is a big deal if you struggle with anxiety. Masks can bring on panic attacks, decrease ability to read social cues, and decrease ability to see a person’s reaction. Just let each individual family and parent decide what’s best for our children.” – Tracy Kleckner, Kaneland District 302
“I 100% agree with the mask mandate for K-12 students. This delta variant is affecting young people more than the other ones were, and breaking through and infecting some vaccinated people. Masks are the only defense young kids have against this virus. I think it’s important for kids to be in school, and I think it’s only prudent to take the minimum precautions to protect them.” – Amber Keare, Elgin Area District U-46
“I have a high schooler, and we rushed to get him vaccinated as soon as we could last spring. I wish they could allow the vaccinated high schoolers to choose to mask or not. These kids have been suffering long enough physically and mentally. My choice is for mask optional & let the parents decide. Or place the unvaccinated students who are eligible in separate classrooms. I understand elementary students cannot get vaccinated yet so having them mask is more important.” – Kelly Huskey, Geneva District 304
“I 100% support a mask mandate from the governor. I have family and friends who are teachers and so thankful this will be addressed by the state and not left in the hands of districts.” – Cassandra George, St. Charles District 303
“My daughter will not be attending this year, and I will pay for a tutor if I have to.” – Connie Hermes, St. Charles District 303
“I completely support it. I’m happy to see the governor step up and make this call, since our local districts seem unable to do the right thing and protect children on their own.” – Kate Russo, St. Charles District 303
“I do not support it. I support parent choice. I don’t begrudge anyone their mask, but I want the ability to choose for my children.” – Jennifer Fuhrman, Geneva District 304
“I support this mandate 100%. My elementary age children were already going to be wearing masks regardless of whatever anyone else did, on the advice of our doctors. I am fully vaccinated and still wear a mask indoors everywhere. We believe in safety for all, even those who do not care about others.” – Jennifer Volpe, Central District 301
“Our family lives in Kane County, but our kids attend school in Kendall County. We are opposed to this mandate and believe that it should be the parents’ choice. We are considering home school as an option.” – Kaylea Davila, Yorkville District 115
“I am thrilled that the governor stepped in to assure that the mask mandate is uniform and unambiguous, but I am disappointed this was needed to do what is essentially common sense and recommended by virtually every public health body in the U.S. and the state of Illinois. The recommendations of people who know a lot more about these issues and the ever-changing science is where guidance should have come from, and it’s irresponsible to pretend that in this case all viewpoints are on equal footing.” – Hadley Woodhouse, Geneva District 304
Shaw Local editor John Sahly contributed to this report.