After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its mask rules, the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) revised its School Masking Guidance on Wednesday, July 28, 2021. Several days earlier, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced everyone must wear masks in all K-12 schools when the term begins on August 30.
When the CDC updated its guidelines, only unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals were advised to wear masks. However, on Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines recommend that all children wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status; CPS follows these guidelines.
CPS posted the letters sent to parents/guardians on Twitter on July 22; @ChiPublicSchools’ tweet added photos of the Back-to-School Health and Safety protocols in English and Spanish. In addition, administrators included rules for mask/cloth face coverings, social distancing, and daily meals.
- Regardless of vaccination status, everyone is required to wear masks while indoors except while eating or drinking. The mandate includes students, teaching and support staff members, and all visitors.
- Wherever possible, the plan is to ensure social distancing of three feet is maintained. As this is not possible in all circumstances, Chicago schools instituted additional safety measures such as air purifiers, hand sanitizers, cleaning, and disinfecting. Additionally, contact tracing will be used in the case of detected COVID-19 infections.
- During breakfast and lunch meals, some students and staff will eat in their classrooms, whereas others will use the cafeteria. No masks are required while eating and drinking, but the three-foot social distancing measure will be enforced as much as possible.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady used Twitter to express her support for the CPS plan. Dr. Arwady wrote the number one goal was having the students return to in-person classes and creating an environment that is as safe as possible.
For the most part, parents and staff members approve of the masking rules.
However, some ask why virtual classes are not available. For example, parents with youngsters under 12 and immune system-challenged kids/family members are concerned that masks will not be enough to keep everyone safe.
The CDC recommends that everyone 12 years and older be vaccinated to slow the infection rates in the United States and protect those who are either too young or, for medical reasons, cannot be vaccinated.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
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Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Ivan Radic’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Listenwave Photography’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License