Here’s what McHenry County parents are saying about Gov. JB Pritzker’s new school mask mandate

Masks are now required for all Illinois schools – from preschool through grade 12 – as well as daycares, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced Wednesday.

Most McHenry County school districts had opted to make mask-wearing optional this coming school year before the governor’s mandate. A handful, including Algonquin-based Community School District 300, Cary School District 26 and Woodstock School District 200, already had decided to require masks this fall.

We asked McHenry County parents what they think of Pritzker’s mask edict. Here are some of their responses:

“I do not support masks at all. It should be the parents’ choice and not forced on children. This is not humane and against our constitutional rights.” – Jamie Kiscellus, McHenry Elementary School District 15

“I support the mask mandate in the schools and am so thankful! Our kids will still get to be in the schools and get their education but in a safe environment! Dist 156 McHenry board wouldn’t take the necessary steps to ensure our kids were protected but Gov. Pritzker did!” – Chris Weideman Newlon, McHenry High School District 156

“I am so relieved that Pritzker is going to mandate masks for kids in school. My child is 11 and not eligible for the vaccine. It is still scary to send her inside for so many hours per day at this time when delta variant is spreading, but at least masks will be worn. We applaud this decision to follow science and plain old common senses and caution, especially because our district [Prairie Grove 46] had decided masks optional.” – Kelly Sparks LaVigne, Prairie Grove School District 46

“I would absolutely consider pulling my children from District 15 and start homeschooling them. Another option is to leave the state entirely. I have family moving to Florida to escape this nonsense, and with more news like this, I might be right behind them. It seems like our two options for governor in this state historically are convicted felon or wannabe tyrant.” – Jon Clements, McHenry Elementary School District 15

“My kids are just so happy to be in school again. Both of my kids are too young to get vaccinated, and I am relieved there is a face mask mandate. I do want to say l feared going back to remote again! I am the only parent at home it was so very difficult for me and the kids. We got through it, but would prefer not to have it happen again.

“My kids never complained once about wearing a mask to school!! They are happy to be there. I still fear getting a call to quarantine due to a possible exposure. It happened once to my youngest, and it was a long 14 days. He was in very close contact with the individual, but they both wore masks and my kid was fine.” – Victoria R Pollock, Huntley School District 158

“As a parent of a D-47 student who is too young to be vaccinated, I fully support a statewide mask mandate. I was deeply disappointed in the district’s decision to make masks optional, especially as we’ve watched infection rates climb in our community because of the highly contagious delta variant.

“Now that the CDC and IDPH have joined the AAP, WHO and virtually every other scientific body in the world in recommending masks be universally worn by K-12 children, I’m thrilled that our governor is following their expert advice – and telling schools to do the same.

“Every child has the right to a safe public education, and I commend Governor Pritzker for doing the right thing in the face of very vocal [albeit dangerously misinformed] opposition. When it comes to our kids’ lives, why take any chances?” – Alex Fulton, Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47

“As the mother of two elementary school aged kids, I’m so relieved to be able to send them to school and know that layers of safety mitigation are in place.

“Last year’s return to school went well. My first grader and third grader understand the logic behind social distancing, hand washing, and mask wearing, and they see doing these things as very easy steps we can take to keep our community safe. They also see these doing these things as no big deal.

“I will always remember how excited they were the first time we visited the library after a long lock down during the beginning of the pandemic. Their words were, ‘So if we just wear a mask, we can go to the library? Woo hoo!’ Last year, almost every day on the ride home from school, I’d have to remind my kids to take off their masks in the car. It’s simply not a big deal to them.” – Emily Froehle, Woodstock School District 200

Responses are lightly edited for length and clarity.