Mask Optional Plan
Hello D103 Families,
The past few weeks have been challenging times for schools and families across Illinois due to the Temporary Restraining Order put in place on Friday, February 4.
The impact of the recent temporary ruling for those who were named and not named in the lawsuit has been hotly debated.
The lawsuit has gone to the appellate court for a ruling on the Temporary Restraining Order. Regardless of the outcome, the circuit court still needs to rule on the merits of the case, which will take time.
The Governor announced that the state will begin its “off ramp” of mitigation measures for indoor spaces by lifting the mask mandate on the 28th of February, with schools to follow soon after.
The current Executive Order mandating masking in schools expires on Saturday, March 5.
Our District has done very well with keeping our students, staff and visitors in a safe environment at school:
We have strong mitigation strategies that have worked to keep positive cases in our schools much lower than community transmission rates, even when a large percentage of our students were not eligible for vaccination.
Vaccination rates in our district are at 92% for staff with rates ranging from 38% in Kindergarten to 82% in Eighth-Grade.
There have been two very positive changes recently. Positive Covid cases in our District community area and our schools over the last few weeks have dropped significantly. Additionally, the State announced the beginning of an “off ramp” process making the lifting of measures imminent given improving conditions and updated health and safety information.
Considering the information above, District 103 will plan to move to a “masking optional but recommended” environment effective Monday, March 7, only 12 days of school from now.
Please note: masking on public transportation, including school buses, is a federal requirement and will remain in place until further notice regardless of masking requirements on school grounds.
It is important to note that as we transition to this new phase, many mitigation measures will remain in place including hand hygiene, PCR screening, onsite testing of symptomatic individuals, increased air ventilation, and more.
Social Emotional Care for Students
We know that children, especially our youngest learners, will need appropriate reassurances that they will be following school rules no matter if they are masked or unmasked once the shift occurs, that they will be safe, and that it will be okay for other students to make a different choice than theirs. We encourage you to talk with your children as you determine the best decision(s) for your family as we move closer to the implementation date. Please see the information at the bottom of this notice on tips and resources for speaking with your child about managing the upcoming changes.
Additionally, our teachers will facilitate a social-emotional learning lesson for all students. These lessons will start with a video message from each building principal with a follow-up activity/discussion occurring in the classroom. The principals’ videos will focus on moving to a mask optional environment, with an emphasis placed on respecting families' choices and expected behaviors.
Future Considerations and Next Steps
If a future legal decision is made that provides a high level of clarity for schools, we will seek legal guidance on its impact and respond accordingly. This may include moving the mask optional date earlier than March 7, 2022.
We will continue to share information on local case rate numbers. As we move closer to implementation, we will share with you how these numbers will be used to assess if a brief (5-7 days) return to universal masking for some schools or classrooms is needed.
In the coming weeks, we will provide more detailed information regarding our full transition (off-ramp) plan for returning to a more traditional learning environment.
We have received feedback from our community on the masking issue that is split between those who want masking to become optional now and those who want masking to remain in place for the remainder of the school year. District 103 will not be reactionary in our decisions, and even though this is an emotional issue for many, we will continue to make decisions based on data, guidance and with respect and consideration for opposing views. The Board and administration have been discussing the appropriate time and method for lessening mitigations, including the ability to remove masks, since November. We feel those conditions are here and a transition is viable.
Our timelines will anger some individuals and provide relief for others. There is no timeline that will please everyone. This plan provides us a thoughtful path forward and moves us toward choice in a way that balances physical and emotional safety. As tensions have risen and conversations have escalated among those who disagree, we all need to pause. Our students and staff have worked tirelessly to make the best of challenging conditions. Let’s continue to work together through these transitions.
Scott Warren, Ed.D
Superintendent of D103 Schools
Tips on how to support your children for the upcoming changes
Answer questions honestly: “Do I still need to wear a mask?” “Why isn’t my friend wearing a mask?” It’s okay to explain to children that everyone has a choice. Some people do not want to explain their reasons because they are personal. Some students may choose to wear a mask, while others don’t.
Talk about safety practices. Explain the reasoning behind continued safety measures. For example: You can tell them, “It’s important to wash your hands to keep you and everyone healthy so everyone can keep coming to school.”
Focus on mental wellness. Spend time talking about how students are feeling. Let them know it’s ok to talk to you, a teacher or another trusted adult about how they are doing.
Additional resources you can use as a family to talk about the upcoming changes are linked below:
Board of Education Meeting
The next Board of Education meeting will occur at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22. The notice and agenda can be found on the District 103 Board meeting website page. D103 board meetings are being held in-person and live-streamed each month on our YouTube Channel. Members of the community should attend the meeting at 111 Barclay Boulevard, Lincolnshire if they would like to make a public comment. The public can also contact the Board at email@example.com.
D103 Calendar of Events
The D103 PTO is a completely volunteer-run organization, dedicated to enhancing and enriching the educational experience of our students. Please visit the PTO store to become a member.
Leaders in Learning
Location: 111 Barclay Blvd, Lincolnshire, IL 60069, USA