"We need some time to ensure student and staff safety upon return to school. By October, if all goes well and our health metrics are stable, all our students and staff will have the option to wear a mask or not while at school," says Dr. McKay, Superintendent of Community High School District 117. Consistent with state guidance, "I think it’s reasonable for a little time."
On Thursday, July 15, Community High School District 117 held its monthly board meeting at which the Board of Education discussed the new CDC/IDPH guidance. Dr. McKay presented every element of the updated guidance and a phased approach (Below) recommendation to the Board of Education. This approach is allowable under these new guidelines.
We fully understand that students wearing/not wearing masks in school is a concerning issue for families. Some families want all the mitigations in our schools (masks, social distancing, surveillance testing, illness testing, promoting vaccinations, hand and respiratory hygiene, ventilation, cleaning and disinfecting, staying home when sick.) Conversely, there are those that want to remove some of these mitigations immediately. Some families joined the July 15th meeting to express their concern from both sides of this issue.
Community High School District 117 regards the safety of ALL students and staff as a top priority. No single plan will satisfy everyone; finding a balance among the many voices takes compromise and understanding. The District has requested the help of families to voluntarily provide vaccine information over the summer. We would like to be as prepared as possible should an outbreak occur during the busy school schedule so the close contact process can be accomplished more efficiently. There are no consequences for not disclosing vaccine information.
The health and safety of our students and staff do not start or stop with face coverings. The mental health considerations and learning loss in our community during this pandemic will require considerable attention throughout this coming year. The District has made several adjustments over the course of the last year to address these challenges and has invested in hiring more staff to assist students in need. More specific information will be provided by the schools regarding building supports for students in the coming weeks.
Given the success of serving most students last spring, the District anticipates a very strong and positive school year. The District continues to plan for the upcoming year, more information regarding the start of the school year will be released in the coming weeks.
Please do not hesitate to contact your school administration for building-specific information.