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Parents Call For Universal School Masking As State Education Board Adopts CDC Guidance

Amber Patel and her 6-year-old daughter are holding up signs outside the school where she’ll be starting in a few weeks. They’re demanding a universal school masking mandate along with a crowd of community members rallying outside an Indian Prairie district elementary school.

“She does miss her friends, she misses community, I know she needs to go to first grade, but I want her to be in it safely,” said Patel.

Monday, the Illinois State Board of Education formally adopted new CDC guidance recommending students and staff wear masks inside schools, regardless of vaccination status.

The new school year approaches, just as the COVID-19 Delta variant is surging. That led schools to rethink mask-optional policies in place from earlier this summer. Many districts, including district 204, say they’re reviewing new guidance, but have optional policies as of now.

Jennifer Stamp has kids in the Oswego Community School District 308. She helped organize the recent event. She’s upset her district and others haven’t adopted the new CDC guidance yet.

“This is CDC guidance. I should be back-to-school shopping right now,” she said. “But instead I'm not even registering my kid right now because I don't know what to do.”

Parents across northern Illinois have rallied against and in favor of mandatory school masking. These parents want the governor to step in and mandate masking if school boards won’t. Patel also expressed frustration over the school not offering a remote option this fall.

Stamp says she’s still confident districts will eventually impose mask mandates regardless of vaccination status, but that it shouldn’t be a tough decision.

Students 12 to 17 are eligible for vaccination. Estimates of CDC say only about 38% will have at least one dose by back-to-school. DeKalb County’s Public Health Administrator says they still don’t have great data on how many kids 12 to 17 have had a shot.

Peter joins WNIJ as a graduate of North Central College. He is a native of Sandwich, Illinois.