Geneva District 304 board responds to parents who disagree with vote to mandate masks
Several parents criticized the Geneva District 304 school board at its meeting Monday regarding its mask mandate, prompting some board members to defend their votes.
One parent thanked the district for its mask mandate. But others praised 51 other school districts in Illinois whose boards voted against Gov. JB Pritzker's universal mask mandate for preschool through high school.
"These infringements on our freedom are probably going to continue," Patti Hodge said. "If you don't stand up for what you believe. If you don't stand up for our choices -- choices and freedoms -- your government is going to remove the life that currently you are enjoying in your homes and in your offices."
Some claimed wearing masks did nothing to stop the coronavirus or that children cannot pass the virus.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, wearing a face covering is "one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus. Masks are a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets, which spread COVID-19, from reaching others."
Meanwhile, the IDPH reported cases in kids ages 5 to 11 averaged 1,056 new cases per week from June 2020 through June 2021.
And for children ages 12 to 17, they averaged 1,587 new cases per week during the same period, per state data.
Some school board members defended their vote for the mask mandate.
"I have voted to put masks on kids when it was my choice," Larry Cabeen said. "I have done so because I sincerely believe it is the right thing to do. I don't believe in cherry-picked data. I believe the science overall. If you feel strongly that masks don't work, please ask your doctor not to wear one next time he operates on you."
Board member Tammie Meek said she appreciated everyone's viewpoints shared at the meeting.
"And I firmly stand behind my vote, nonetheless," Meek said. "We, as a Geneva 304 community, are all enriched for that engagement and everyone contributing."
Board President Taylor Egan said the district's COVID dashboard numbers as of last Friday were encouraging.
"Hopefully, that trend will stay along the same line. I do believe the decisions that have been made, the work that has been done at this table and behind the scenes, have really put our students and staff in a good position to maintain in-person learning," Egan said.
Egan urged parents to think about the advantages of continuing in-person learning versus being behind a computer screen.
"I think that mental impact is so much greater," Egan said.