JSD 117 Returns To Learning With Full Indoor Mask Mandate

By Benjamin Cox on August 4, 2021 at 10:04am

Jacksonville School District 117 will require masks indoors at all school buildings and full school days will return this Fall.

The District 117 School Board announced last night during a special meeting that they are following the recommendations in letters from Passavant Area Hospital CEO Dr. Scott Boston, the school’s insurance company, and the school’s general counsel that they should follow the recommended new guidance from the CDC and IDPH.

Superintendent Steve Ptacek revealed that the community survey on masks were generally split down the middle on the topic. He says that the school board decided to follow what the experts recommended and the district will “stay in its lane” when it comes to COVID-19 and mitigations: “We followed the same strategy that we did last year in that the statement was we stayed in our lane and followed the recommendations, and that allowed us to open up school when other people were closing. This year we are going to follow recommendations and those recommendations are as we start up the school year, full masks with no exceptions for vaccinations. We will be having full school days at JMS and JHS, so we are having lunch and are having full school days. When students are quarantined, we will provide a form of remote instruction for those students. It will not be virtual or online, but we will provide a way for them to interact with their teacher through probably email or packets. We are hoping we doesn’t happen much. Last, we are looking at a testing service that the state is offering, a SHIELD Testing for people who have been in close contact to try to keep them in school, and those are the four big parts of the plan that the Board approved.”

Ptacek says he cannot commit to it right now, but vaccination clinics may be coming to the district’s schools. He says that the SHIELD Testing program would be paid for by the state and that the district will continue to closely monitor the virus situation in all of the schools in hopes that the district will stay in session all year long like it did last year.