District 203, 204 superintendents talk masks, snow days in online forum

  • Adrian Talley

    Adrian Talley

  • Dan Bridges

    Dan Bridges

 
 
Updated 2/25/2022 6:31 PM

Fielding questions about masking policies, snow days, enrollment boundaries and more, the Naperville area's two school superintendents participated in an online forum to provide answers on numerous topics affecting their districts.

Moderated by Naperville Public Library Executive Director Dave Della Terza and library Commissioner Ashfaq Syed, Wednesday's forum on Zoom was designed to allow community members to directly present concerns to Indian Prairie Unit District 204 Superintendent Adrian Talley and Naperville Unit District 203 Superintendent Dan Bridges.

 

The forum came near the end of a tumultuous month for both districts, highlighted by the decision from school officials to maintain a mask mandate despite a court ruling against it. Both districts recently changed their policies to strongly recommend masks.

"I can't say that masking will never come back," Bridges said, "but we see it as a layer of mitigation that, based on our metrics ... we are very comfortable making it not a requirement. Something that we strongly recommend, though."

District officials also came under fire for keeping schools open on Feb. 2 despite 6 to 8 inches of snow falling in Naperville. They faced additional criticism on Feb. 17 when the districts closed schools and shifted to e-learning due to weather that turned out not as bad as expected.

"There is a no-win situation when we make a decision about snow days," said Dr. Talley, whose district serves Aurora, Bolingbrook and Plainfield in addition to Naperville. "You have some who are very happy that you kept schools open, and you have others who are not happy. And that's exactly what happened on both occasions that we've had in the last few weeks."

The District 204 school board recently approved the district's first major boundary redrawing since 2009, prompting one forum participant to question the timing of such a shift during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The boundary work had to be done because this is something we can use to now begin to examine class sizes," said Talley, who opened by stressing the boundary redrawing should have happened three years ago. "We could not do class sizes until we made adjustments with our boundaries."

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