Illinois Governor, J.B. Pritzker issued an Executive Order on August 4, 2021, increasing mitigation measures in public and non-public schools serving students in grades PK-12 to include a requirement for all individuals to wear face masks while indoors, regardless of vaccination status. For the duration of this Executive Order, the issue of wearing a mask is no longer a local decision. We are hopeful that the level of transmission will soon lessen, and that the CDC (and IDPH) are able to adjust their existing recommendations to again allow this decision to be made locally. If/When this again becomes a local decision, we will evaluate the level of transmission in our community and in our schools at that time and consult with our Local Health Department as to whether it is appropriate to begin lifting mitigation measures that are in place.
While I understand there are strong opinions on both sides of this issue, I would like to take a moment to highlight some things (relative to where we were in May of this year) that we can take a deep breath and be thankful for:
- Students will be able to attend full days of school.
- Students will eat lunch at school.
- Students will have access to the playground.
- Masks do not have to be worn by students or guests while outside.
- There are no capacity limits to school events.
- Classroom contact tracing for quarantine purposes of masked individuals is within three feet, lowered from six feet, reducing the number of students that will be quarantined.
- Vaccinated individuals that are close contacts do not have to quarantine.
- There will be no contact tracing for outdoor exposures to positive cases.
While these current guidelines are always subject to change, (and we are anxiously awaiting updated guidance from IDPH and ISBE as a result of the latest Executive Order,) I'm hopeful we can all celebrate how far we have come and work together to limit the level of transmission in our community as we embrace the return of our students for the 21/22 school year. We will certainly communicate any additional updates as we receive them from IDPH and/or ISBE.
Waterloo CUSD #5