Districts 203, 204 ending mask mandates

  • Maskless students gather outside Naperville Central High School last week to protest the mask mandate that remained in Naperville Unit District 203. But now the district as well as Indian Prairie Unit District 204 have made their schools only masks-recommended.

    Maskless students gather outside Naperville Central High School last week to protest the mask mandate that remained in Naperville Unit District 203. But now the district as well as Indian Prairie Unit District 204 have made their schools only masks-recommended. Courtesy of Jess Elyea

 
 
Updated 2/14/2022 4:31 PM

After a week of tense board meetings and protests, Naperville Unit District 203 and Indian Prairie Unit District 204 both announced an end to their respective mask mandates in favor of a mask "strongly recommended" policy.

While masks still will be required on buses because of federal guidelines, District 203 buildings will become mask-optional starting Tuesday, and District 204 will follow on Feb. 22 to allow time to prepare for the change.

 

Both districts kept a mask requirement in place last week despite a legal ruling against Gov. J.B. Pritzker's mandate for schools. District 203 and 204 were among more than 140 school districts named in the lawsuit challenging the state mandate.

District 203 and 204 school board members and superintendents faced fierce backlash at meetings last Monday from people complaining about the continued masking. District 204 had to postpone its board meeting for a day and hold it remotely on Zoom because many attendees refused to wear masks.

Bolstered by another week of improving COVID-19 numbers -- and with no update on an appeal of the ruling against the mandate and no further guidance from state authorities -- District 203 and 204 decided to reverse course.

Last week, Pritzker announced an end to the mask mandate will come on Feb. 28 if COVID-19 numbers continue to fall, although the requirement will remain for schools depending on the outcome in court.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Based on Naperville 203's metrics and our ability to successfully mitigate risk, we are confident that we are ready to adjust our mitigations and continue to provide a safe learning environment for all," District 203 Superintendent Dan Bridges said Sunday in a message to the community.

In a similar message to families on Sunday, District 204 Superintendent Adrian Talley noted specific numbers while explaining the shift to optional masking. Talley pointed to a vaccination rate of between 72% and 90% in the seven ZIP codes served by District 204 and the most recent positivity rate of 0.28% among the district's staff and students.

Masks will be optional for District 204 K-12 students and staff. But it will remain required for early childhood and prekindergarten classes because those younger students can't be vaccinated.

In both announcements, the superintendents reminded the community to be respectful of others regardless of their masking decisions. They also said masking policies could change again if COVID-19 numbers spike.

"We are a community of learners who celebrate our differences," Talley said. "We need to rebuild relationships as a school community and treat each other with the civility and kindness that we did prior to the pandemic."

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.