McHenry County College to require staff, students, visitors to mask up starting Monday

College posted on Facebook that this decision is based on county’s current COVID-19 transmission levels

Starting Monday, all McHenry County College employees, students and visitors will be required to wear a mask or face covering when indoors on campus.

In a Facebook post, the college said Thursday that the update was based on McHenry County’s current COVID-19 transmission levels.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s metrics, McHenry County had enough disease spread Wednesday to trigger the universal indoor mask-wearing advice. It remained in that category Friday as more suburban counties also saw their numbers rise to that threshold.

Currently, McHenry County is now considered to have “substantial” levels of COVID-19 transmission, as over the past week, more than 50 new cases of the disease were diagnosed for every 100,000 people.

Nearby Lake and Kane counties are still at a “moderate” level of community transmission, the CDC reported, but Cook County was bumped up to “substantial” transmission as well, joining McHenry, DuPage and Will counties.

“Thank you for your cooperation in keeping our campus safe,” McHenry County College said in the Facebook post.

The college, which is located at 8900 Route 14 in Crystal Lake and set to start its fall term Aug. 12, told the Northwest Herald earlier this year that it is not requiring its students or staff to get vaccinated but has been working to provide more opportunities for its employees and students to do so.

Earlier this month, the Illinois Board of Higher Education and Illinois Community College Board released guidance aimed at facilitating a “safe return to college campuses this fall.”

“We are strongly encouraging universities to require vaccination to protect their campus and local communities as they bring students back for a full campus experience,” Illinois Board of Higher Education Executive Director Ginger Ostro said in a joint statement July 19 with the Illinois Community College Board.

Illinois Community College Board Executive Director Brian Durham noted, however, that the updated guidance provides “significant flexibility for community colleges as they consider their own local context, allowing them to fully reopen in the fall while also keeping the safety and well-being of their students, faculty and staff at the forefront.”

McHenry County College has several other practices in place that can mitigate exposure, Christina Haggerty, the college’s vice president of marketing, communications and development, said in May. That includes social distancing guidelines, health screening at all entrances and thorough daily cleaning protocols.

Cassie Buchman

Cassie Buchman

I cover Crystal Lake, Algonquin, Cary, Fox River Grove, Prairie Grove and Oakwood Hills for the Northwest Herald.