CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s down to the wire, with weeks left until school starts in-person across the Chicago area. Now the big question on the table is should students have to wear masks in the classroom as part of COVID-19 protocols?
That’s sparking a heated debate at Barrington School District 220. CBS 2’s Mugo Odigwe takes us inside a testy school board meeting.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Slight Chance Of Storms Overnight; A Quiet Pattern To Come
The newly elected school board and new superintendent, Dr. Robert Hunt, had an intense four-hour meeting with parents Tuesday night.
Some parents were strongly against requiring students to wear masks, but others still want them at school.
In the end, the school board met parents halfway.
Parents and guardians who showed up at the school board meeting had lots to say, shouting at school board members and talking over each other.
Those against a masking requirement were the loudest.
“Your job is to educate our children … not to insert control by mandating my child wears a piece of cloth over his face that we can now buy on clearance at Target for 99 cents,” one parent said.READ MORE: At Least 2 People Killed, 32 Wounded In Gun Violence In Chicago So Far This Weekend
“There’s no reason our children to be masked that’s the first thing. They should be at five days of school. There should be no three days a week, two days a week, one day remote. Remote learning is garbage and you know that,” another parent said.
Those who wanted students to continue wearing a mask spoke up too.
“What’s coming out now is the Delta variant. It’s new. It attacks kids,” one parent said. “Let’s not bring that to Barrington.”
“I urge everybody to remember that it’s because of higher masking and vaccination rates that we’re enjoying some of the freedoms we have now to reopen,” another parent said.
The Illinois Department of Public Health already has masking guidance for schools posted on its website. IDPH recommends masks be worn inside by all students who aren’t vaccinated, but masking rules are up to individual school districts.
The District 220 school board was considering four options for the upcoming school year: requiring masks for everyone, requiring masks only for those who aren’t vaccinated, phased masking, or making masks optional.
Ultimately, the board agreed to a mask optional plan for grades 6 to 12, meaning middle and high school students can choose whether to wear a mask.MORE NEWS: 1 Killed, 2 Wounded In West Pullman Shooting
The board also set a July 21 date to discuss what a “phased masking” approach for K through 5th grade students would look like. Currently, children under the age of 12 are not eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine.