The Kendall County Health Department issued a statement Friday, July 23, in support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) updated guidance for the prevention of COVID-19 in K-12 schools.
Use of masks by those who are not fully vaccinated is among the “key takeaways” contained in the CDC’s updated guidance released July 9 and posted on the agency’s website.
“Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated. Consistent and correct mask use by people who are not fully vaccinated is especially important indoors and in crowded settings, when physical distancing cannot be maintained,” the CDC guidance reads.
In the health department statement, officials acknowledge that county school leaders have the final say over back-to-school plans in their respective districts, which will include whether students are required to wear masks.
The Board of Education for the county’s largest school district, Oswego 308, voted July 12 to make mask wearing optional for the district’s more than 17,000 students for the coming school year. Meanwhile, Yorkville School District 115 is currently conducting a survey of district parents on the mask issue. The district’s Board of Education is expected to make a final decision on a mask policy for the coming school year during a meeting set for Aug. 9.
The Plano School District 88 Board of Education will hold a special meeting Aug. 2 to further consider the district’s mask policy.
The health department’s statement reads:
“While acknowledging that school leaders and local school districts hold the ultimate authority and discretion to develop plans to return to school, Kendall County Health Department promotes strategies to reduce the risk and likelihood of COVID-19 spread in school settings in order to maximize the benefits in-person learning provides.
“Kendall County Health Department will be following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidance with layered COVID-19 prevention strategies in place that are outlined in the updated CDC guidance for K-12 schools, which were fully adopted by the Illinois Department of Public Health. These layered prevention strategies include:
• Promoting vaccination
• Consistent and correct mask use
• Physical distancing
• Screening testing to promptly identify cases, clusters, and outbreaks
• Enhanced ventilation
• Support for handwashing and respiratory etiquette
• Staying home when sick and getting tested
• Contact tracing, in combination with isolation, quarantine, and post-exposure viral testing, and
• Proper cleaning and disinfection.
The statement concludes:
“As we all work together to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on our students, staff, and community, we must continue to protect ourselves and one another from the serious effects of COVID-19 disease. Our collective goal is to bring an end to this pandemic. For information about Coronavirus, COVID-19 vaccines, and available vaccination clinic appointment times, please visit our website at www.kendallhealth.org or click here.”