Oswego School District 308 officials reviewing updated CDC mask guidance

Board of Education voted July 12 to make masks optional in district buildings for upcoming school year

Oswego School District 308 administrators are reviewing updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control that calls for all students and staff in K-12 schools to wear masks indoors and on buses, regardless of vaccination status.

The CDC on Tuesday announced the new guidance to prevent further spread of the highly transmissible COVID-19 delta variant. The federal health agency now recommends “universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status,” according to its website.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has announced that it is adopting the CDC’s new guidance. The IDPH issued a statement on Monday warning school districts that “in addition to the health and safety reasons for following the CDC’s guidance, school districts that decide not to follow the CDC’s guidance should consult with their insurers regarding risk assumption and liability coverage. Insurers may be unwilling to cover liabilities created as a result of failure to adhere to public health guidance.”

In a July 28 email, Director of Communications and Public Relations Theresa Komitas confirmed that administrators are reviewing the updated CDC guidance.

Superintendent Dr. John Sparlin is also meeting with superintendents included in Regional Office of Education #24 serving Grundy and Kendall counties, representatives from the Grundy and Kendall County Health Departments, and staff from the Regional Office of Education “to discuss the guidance and ask questions,” Komitas said.

“While yesterday’s updates are certainly being discussed, this meeting was scheduled prior to the release, these same meetings occurred last year as well.”

A presentation on the district’s safety plan for the 2021-2022 school year is scheduled for the Board of Education’s Aug. 9 meeting. The new school year will begin on Aug. 18.

During an acrimonious July 12 meeting, the OSD 308 Board of Education voted 6-0 with one member abstaining to make masks optional for staff and students in school, but required for all while on school transportation.

The district’s mask policy, currently on the OSD 308 website, states that there is no mandate or policy requiring students and staff to wear or not wear a mask while in school.

“Additionally, the district does not have a policy requiring students and staff to disclose their COVID-19 vaccination status,” the policy states. “The district will not tolerate the bullying of individuals for wearing or not wearing a mask.”

The website also states that the district’s directive, “is subject to change based upon changes in applicable factors including an increase in COVID-19 rates or revised public health guidance.”

As masking represents “only one component” of OSD 308′s plan for returning to school in the fall, a full plan is under development and will be published on the district website and shared with family and staff once finalized.

Note: The initial post of this article contained an incorrect date for the start of the 2021-2022 school year. We regret the error.