Face masks required when students return? Dist. 220 board members discussing options

  • Will students be required to wear face masks when they return to classes this fall at Barrington High School and other Barrington District 220 schools? School board members are discussing the options.

    Will students be required to wear face masks when they return to classes this fall at Barrington High School and other Barrington District 220 schools? School board members are discussing the options. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer, 2017

 
 
Updated 6/8/2021 10:55 AM

Barrington Area Unit District 220 board members are working to define the school district's position on mask requirements for students ahead of the 2021-22 school year.

Superintendent Brian Harris said last week he expects the Illinois State Board of Education to come out with new guidelines.

 

"The state superintendent did reaffirm that the current mitigation requirements that we had at the end of the school year carry into summer school," he said. "They have not changed anything at this point."

Until there are updates to the guidelines, Harris said he will continue to follow those issued by state and local authorities, unless "directed differently by the board."

Board member Erin Chan Ding said state education officials said in a recent webinar that mitigation requirements are not just guidelines, and districts should consider them requirements enforceable by law. The state could withhold funding for a district not in compliance, she said.

"That's exactly how our attorneys have interpreted that for the past 15 months," Harris added.

But board member Steve Wang said he has heard from district parents opposed to a mask requirement.

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"There are plenty of school districts out there who have already said they are not going to follow this mandate," Wang said. "Is that something that we're willing to entertain?"

Chan Ding said that could mean the district loses state funding.

"Does that threat of going after our funding make you uncomfortable?" she asked.

"At some level it does," Wang responded.

"But at the same time, we're talking about children here. And what's best for them."

Board members agreed the discussion would continue as the state board updates its requirements. Harris said it's "really possible" there will be changes before the fall.

"For the next school year, I think this conversation is premature," he said.

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