Some Chicago Public Schools parents, city's top doc voice support for mask decision

Do masks work? CDC has said layered mitigation will keep schools safer

Friday, July 23, 2021
Some CPS parents, Dr. Arwady voice support for mask decision
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Chicago Public Schools announced Thursday that masks will be worn by everyone when schools return to in-person learning on Aug. 30.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Some Chicago Public Schools parents and the city's top doctor voiced support Friday for CPS' decision to require masks be worn by everyone when schools return to in-person learning on Aug. 30.

CPS said Thursday masks or cloth face coverings must be worn by students, teachers, support staff and all visitors, regardless of vaccination status. They may be removed for outdoor activities, such as recess and some sports activities.

CPS also said it will enforce social distancing of at least 3 feet and daily meals will be eaten by some in classrooms and others in the cafeteria. Students will be allowed to remove their masks while eating.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady tweeted her full support for the plan, saying it's the safest way to get students back in the classroom.

"Our No. 1 goal is getting kids back in-person and making that as safe as we can. And we feel strongly - particularly for CPS - this is the best way to start, and we're really excited to support them in creating a safe environment for kids," she said Friday.

On Monday the American Academy of Pediatrics released guidance recommending all students wear masks regardless of vaccination status, going a step further than the CDC's recommendations.

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"It's probably a good move," CPS parent David Johnston said.

Some parents said Friday they're on board with the mask rule.

"I think that's great. It's it's making sure that everyone's staying healthy," fellow CPS parent Vanessa Morales said.

She said it's time for kids to socialize and learn in-person again, especially with many vaccinated in the community.

"Students are not necessarily being penalized for not getting the vaccine, so they're not being differentiated by that sense. So everyone is treated equally; staff is treated equally," Morales said.

School districts across Illinois have been faced with the mask debate. Some west suburban districts decided to keep masks optional.

The Cook County Department of Public health said Friday that masks would be required for unvaccinated individuals 2 and older while indoors, but encouraged schools to take the stricter approach of following the guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well.

CPS said its decision was made with close consultation with the Chicago Department of Public Health.

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The Chicago Teacher's Union supported the decision, saying in part, "If both the science and the directives state that layered mitigation will keep school communities more safe, then this is what the district must do to keep children 12 and under, and their families, safe."

CTU is also calling on the city to do more vaccine outreach and provide more shots at school.

"The fact is if the teachers are vaccinated, the parents are vaccinated, there's actually probably very little risk to having kids on masks in schools, but I think the statement that CPS is making is we want to take no chances about spread of disease because we must have in-person learning," Dr. Robert Citronberg said.

Parents and guardians are also reminded they have until this Monday, July 26, to get kids 12 and older shots to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before the first day of school.

Read CPS' full letter explaining COVID-19 safety protocols for the 2021-2022 school year below: