Parents rally for school mask mandate in Aurora

Chanting "we want masks," more than 50 protesters gathered outside Indian Prairie Unit District 204 Howard Crouse Education Center in Aurora to rally against schools that have made mask-wearing optional.

Christine Diorka of Aurora was one of the speakers who climbed a small step ladder and took the megaphone to talk to parents and students from Warrenville, Geneva, Naperville and Aurora.

"As a mother of two young children who attend Indian Prairie School District 204, I was appalled by their decision to make masks optional, especially given that we have proved that we can return to school safely because we could wear masks, and they could go in person," said Diorka.

"Despite the rise of the delta variant and public health officials indicating that this has become a pandemic of the unvaccinated (of which all children under age 12 are and not by choice), Pritzker is steadfastly refusing to take action and require masks in schools as he did last year," rally organizers said in a news release.

Saturday's protest was held at the education center to call attention to the parents' grievances, but the offices were closed and there were no school personnel on hand.

State Superintendent of Education Carmen Ayala has mandated a return to in-person learning this year for all children who do not qualify for a strict medical exemption

Members of the protest group said in a news release that they and other community members refuse to risk their children's lives or allow them to be pawns in a political controversy.

Organizers vowed to call on Gov. J.B. Pritzker to institute an immediate universal masking mandate for schools.

Diorka said that she was hoping district leaders would reconsider their decision "for the safety and well-being of the kids."

  Christine Diorkaj, of Aurora, who has two school age children speaks to parents and students in opposition to schools that have made mask-wearing optional hold a rally at Indian Prairie Unit District 204 Howard Crouse Education Center Saturday Aurora. Brian Hill/
  Two protesters who declined to identify themselves hold signs asking for mask mandates in school at a rally Saturday at Indian Prairie Unit District 204 Howard Crouse Education Center. Brian Hill/
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