The Archdiocese of Chicago announced Wednesday that all of its schools that were still under a mask mandate will instead switch to a mask-optional set of mitigations beginning on Monday.
According to a letter to parents, the Archdiocese says that its schools in Chicago, Evanston and Oak Park will be mask-optional for teachers and students beginning on Feb. 28, the same day that the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago will remove their mask mandates in indoor spaces.
Chicago Public Schools students and teachers will still be required to wear masks under the terms of an agreement reached between the city and teachers’ union last month.
According to the letter, no Archdiocese school has had to have a full-class quarantine during the month of February, and COVID cases have continued to decline in schools with and without mask mandates in place.
“This progress is a testament to the hard work and cooperation of our school families, educators and staff,” Superintendent of Schools Greg Richmond said. “This has been a difficult time for all of us, and I’m grateful for your commitment and patience during this ordeal. Your efforts are paying off.”
Archdiocese officials say that any student or teacher that wishes to continue wearing a mask is encouraged to do so.
In addition, policies will remain in place that will require students to wear a mask after their five-day isolation and quarantine period should they contract COVID-19. They will be required to wear a mask for the five days following their return to school.
Officials also said that masking could be brought back on a school-to-school basis if there is a surge in cases anywhere within the Archdiocese system.