By Megan Hickey

CHICAGO (CBS) — It is official.

Masks off in classrooms this fall. But only for students and teachers who are vaccinated.

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CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reports from Chicago Public Schools headquarters with more on the change.

There are already questions as to how the policy will be reinforced.

The state’s health department and board of education said they’re adopting the CDC’s guidance.

But so far, they haven’t said exactly how they’re going to verify whether students and teachers are vaccinated.

“Not only is it just simply easier to teach when you’re able to see the visual cues, you’re able to clearly hear what someone says. I think there’s also a part of it, where you just feel happier and more hopeful that you’re moving forward.”

On Friday, a sigh of relief from Noble Charter School’s Operations Chief Michael Madden.

He’s getting ready to welcome 13,000 students back at the end of summer, some of them without masks.

 

The Illinois Department of Education and the Illinois Board of Education said vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear masks inside school buildings.

But everyone else (over the age of two) will need to keep theirs on.

How exactly can the schools in his district verify vaccination status?

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Madden said the answer isn’t clear.

“We will continue just to work with local health officials and with CPS to determine the right course of action,” Madden said. “It’s important to us that we don’t create a process that, that separates people over that creates an embarrassing (situation.) Or a situation or a place where people will be judged.”

Superintendent Michael Lubelfeld of North Shore School District 112 said he’s also waiting for more guidance on how they’ll be checking.

But it could be through the school nurse.

“I do believe that our school nurses possess the access or have some availability of determining or ascertaining the number and the individual children who are, in fact, vaccinated,” Lubelfeld said.

The head of Indiana’s Health Department, Dr. Kristina Box also passed that question on to school boards to make the final decision.

“I hope that they make those decisions. The superintendent and the school boards, with the consultation of their local public health and their elected officials,” Box said.

Madden said whatever the process, it will be carried out thoughtfully because they know there are plenty of students who aren’t eligible or who won’t be getting vaccinated for personal reasons.

“We’ve got all of the rest of the health and safety procedures that we’ve had in place for the last 18 months inside of our schools,” Madden said. “And it’s really this layering effect this this combination of things.”

Ultimately, Lubelfeld said, the decision to continue masking will be up to parents.

“If a family or if an employee still chose to wear a mask that will be completely permissible and fully up to them,” he said.

Lubelfeld said he plans to update his district on reopening procedures on July 20 so he hopes to have more details from the Illinois State Board of Education by then.

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Chicago Public Schools it’s still reviewing the guidance but will update parents with any changes to opening guidance.

Megan Hickey