Students and teachers will be required to wear face coverings and social distance while indoors this upcoming academic year, Chicago Public Schools announced Thursday.
Based on a letter sent to CPS families, students and staff will have to wear a mask regardless of COVID vaccination status while indoors, except when eating and drinking.
Face coverings will be able to be removed during recess and outdoor sports, the letter noted.
"Continuing to require masks will hep 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," CPS said in the letter.
CPS will also require students remain three feet apart "whenever possible" and will use enhanced safety protocols, such as air purifiers, hand sanitizer and disinfecting.
Students will separate for daily meals, CPS said, with some students eating breakfast and lunch in the classroom and others in the cafeteria. Because students have to remove their masks to eat, they will be required to stay three feet apart.
While some parents support the district's decision, others don't believe wearing a mask is effective.
Sherryl Reiss said masks will only serve as a distraction for students in the classrooms.
“I wish it was optional, or we were given options, not just a mandate,” she stated. “If the City of Chicago is allowed to be maskless, then CPS students should be allowed to be given the options to not be masked.”
Claudia Guerrero, whose son will be a freshman at John Hancock College Prep this fall, said her son is fully vaccinated and has no problem wearing a mask.
"“We’re never going to be able to agree on everyone, and I think CPS is finally taking that stance of we’re going to do what’s best for the students, we’re going to follow the science and listen to the professionals,” Guerrero said.
At schools in the Chicago Archdiocese, masks will no longer be required in the upcoming academic year for students who have received the COVID-19 vaccine.
The archdiocese said students and staff should make a "near-normal, pre-pandemic" return to school, while maintaining health protocols based on the guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Illinois Department of Public Health.
According to a letter sent to Chicago Archdiocese families, school masses and all extracurricular activities, athletics and field trips will resume in the upcoming year, as well as before and after-care programs.
There will no longer be cohorts, the archdiocese said, though classrooms will use a seating chart that provides the ability to quarantine should a student be exposed to COVID-19.
Students who have been vaccinated will not have to wear a face covering, the letter said, but guidance for unvaccinated individuals will be released in early August.
Classrooms and activities will be arranged to maintain three feet of distance while indoors, where possible, according to the letter. Students who experience COVID-like symptoms will be required to stay home from school.