Rockridge school board votes to go mask-optional in January

This decision goes against Illinois’ standing mask mandate
Published: Dec. 15, 2021 at 11:38 AM CST
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - School board leaders in the Rockridge school district vote to make mask wearing optional for the upcoming new school semester.

School board members delivered a presentation at the meeting Monday night, that detailed several revisions to the district’s existing “Return to School” plan. That plan initially called for masks to be worn by students and teachers. Under the new revisions, masks will be optional.

Board president Nathan Faith cited research that, he says, suggests mask wearing does not help transmission rates. “California (has) some of the strictest masking in America,” Faith said. “High transmission. New York, high transmission. Germany, high transmission. Every single one of them has transmission. You’re not slowing the spread with a mask.”

Board members voted 3-2 in favor of the changes. While some staff members in the Rockridge School District agreed with the decision, others showed concern about the current state of the district.

“In the time I’ve been in this district, I feel like we’ve all worked together very well for the benefit of our kids,” said a district staff member who commented during the meeting. “It breaks my heart that we’re not doing that over something as simple as putting on a mask.”

Any school district that goes against the current state mandate is subject to steep penalties. We reached out to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) for a response, and they sent us this statement:

“The Illinois State Board of Education recognizes and affirms the fundamental importance of in-person learning for the well-being of students, families, and communities. We know that children learn best – and teachers teach best – when they are physically present together in the same space. To ensure that students can continue safely attending school in-person, ISBE will act swiftly to address noncompliance by schools with public health requirements, including the universal masking requirements set forth in Executive Order 2021-18 (as reissued and extended). A school district or school that has been verified by ISBE as not implementing masking requirements is subject to a change in recognition status following the process outlined in the emergency proposed amendments to ISBE’s Part 425 rules (eff. October 28, 2021).

A district or school that has been placed On Probation or is Nonrecognized by ISBE is not eligible to participate in Illinois High School Association (IHSA) or Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) sanctioned sports, subject to the regulations set by IHSA/IESA. Further, a district that has been Nonrecognized in its entirety is subject to a total loss of access to state funding.”

TV6 did reach out to board president Nathan Faith and Rockridge school district superintendent Perry Miller, and we are still waiting to hear back from them both.

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