An IB History student looks at a laptop at Nicholas Senn High School in the Edgewater neighborhood, Friday afternoon, April 23, 2021. All students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear masks next school year. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
“Our goal is to keep all students healthy and safe while they learn in-person five days a week with their teachers and peers so they can receive the education and supports they need and deserve,” interim CPS CEO José Torres wrote in an email to families.
Chicago Public Schools students and staff will still be required to wear face coverings at schools this fall regardless of their vaccination status, officials announced Thursday.
The long-awaited decision could give concerned parents some level of relief as the district aims for a full-time return to in-person learning next month while the vast majority of students are still unvaccinated and COVID-19 cases are once again on the rise in the city.
“Based on feedback from our public health experts at the local, state and federal levels, as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics, we will require that masks/cloth face coverings continue to be worn indoors by everyone, regardless of vaccination status, except for while eating or drinking,” interim CPS CEO José Torres wrote in an email to families.
“Continuing to require masks will help make sure those in our school communities who are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, which encompasses the majority of our students, remain as safe as possible.”
Masks will be allowed to be taken off outdoors and during meals.
CPS plans to reduce its required social distancing guidelines from 6 feet to 3 feet to make room for the additional students returning in the fall. CPS had stuck with the more spread out protocols even as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Illinois health officials changed their recommendations to 3 feet months ago.
No more than a quarter of all CPS students were in classrooms in the spring, but social distancing may be nearly impossible with almost all students expected back for the new school year.
Officials said some students will eat breakfast and lunch in their classrooms and others will head to cafeterias to maximize social distancing when masks are off.
“Our goal is to keep all students healthy and safe while they learn in-person five days a week with their teachers and peers so they can receive the education and supports they need and deserve,” Torres wrote.
The Chicago Teachers Union is in negotiations with the district over health and safety measures for the fall and had pushed for universal masking to stay in place.
Source:: Chicago Sun Times
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