CDC, IDPH suggest unvaccinated students, staff wear masks in school, but New Trier holds off on setting policy
Although county, state and national officials released guidance for COVID-19 prevention in K-12 schools, New Trier High School is tabling the decision on its procedures for the upcoming school year.
In its updated recommendations, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggested last week that masks be worn indoors by all individuals (Age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated. The guidelines were affirmed by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
On first review of the guidance, local officials did not commit to following it for the school year.
New Trier Superintendent Dr. Paul Sally presented an update on the administration’s planning for the 2021-22 school year to the board of education during its regular meeting on Monday, July 12.
Sally said that the district will need to “look at that (guidance) carefully to understand what the implications are of any one approach that (the district) might take to unvaccinated students and staff members.”
“Much communication is happening between superintendents and the powers that be within the state of Illinois in terms of making sure that decisions can be local, taking into account the things that we do in our school,” Sally said.
The updated guidance also states that vaccinated students and staff members are not required to wear masks in schools. Sally noted that the district “supports that conclusion” from the CDC and IDPH.
Among other points covered in the updates are recommendations that schools “maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms combined with indoor mask wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated, to reduce transmission risk.”
Additionally, the CDC suggests previously-in-place mitigation measures should remain.
Sally said that district officials are hoping to release their plans for prevention measures in late July or at the latest August, adding that updates from the Illinois State Board of Education may also be coming.
The district is also encouraging families to send their children’s vaccinations records to the health services department prior to the start of the school year.
“We’ve received a number but we know that there are many many more students that have been vaccinated,” Sally said. “This is a really important point of information for us as we look at our plan for next year.”
Sally said he believes that the level of vaccination in the community is “very high” and the “level of vaccination in this school, within our staff, is very high.”
“We believe that it’s very high among our students as well,” he added.
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Martin Carlino is a co-founder and the senior editor who assigns and edits The Record stories, while also bylining articles every week. Martin is an experienced and award-winning education reporter who was the editor of The Northbrook Tower.