Breaking News: Board to vote Tuesday on going mask-optional

Resolution would allow students choice to not wear mask starting next week

The+Board+will+vote+Tuesday+on+whether+to++make+mask-wearing+optional.+If+it+passes%2C+New+Trier+will+be+mask-optional+starting+Wednesday

Kelly

The Board will vote Tuesday on whether to make mask-wearing optional. If it passes, New Trier will be mask-optional starting Wednesday

New Trier Superintendent Paul Sally expects New Trier to move to a mask-optional environment  next week, according to an email sent out to parents on Friday. 

The New Trier Board of Education will vote Tuesday night on a resolution making mask-wearing optional in school. If approved, the resolution would allow students the choice to not wear a mask starting Wednesday. 

This change will have a significant impact on some of our students, so I appreciate your continued support and patience while we take Tuesday to transition the school community to mask optional beginning Wednesday”

— Superintendent Paul Sally

Masks will still be required on Tuesday, which is a late start day. Students will discuss the change in procedures with their adviseries on Tuesday. 

The decision comes on the heels of an appellate court ruling earlier on Friday holding the ruling of a lower court that schools can go mask-optional, as well as Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker lifting the indoor mask mandate starting Feb 28. It is at the discretion of the individual school district as to whether students can choose not to wear a mask.

The current Board resolution requires masking indoors, so in order for New Trier to go mask-optional, the Board will need to vote again.

However, the school seems to expect the board to vote in favor of the resolution and to transition to a mask-optional state due to the preparations being taken.

In the email, Superintendent Paul Sally wrote, “This change will have a significant impact on some of our students, so I appreciate your continued support and patience while we take Tuesday to transition the school community to mask optional beginning Wednesday.”

In the email sent out to parents this afternoon, Dr. Sally detailed reasons why the school believes going mask-optional is safe, including that 92% of students and 96% of staff are fully vaccinated.

In addition, Sally wrote that COVID data has shown that cases and hospitalizations have decreased in the New Trier Township since the peak of Omicron, and that the school will have N95 and KN95 masks for students who want them.

The school will continue to monitor COVID metrics and offer Shield testing.

For some students, including senior Heather Hoeper, lifting the mask mandate is the right choice.

“I support students having the right to make choices for themselves. I feel there never should have really been a mandate in the first place,” said Hoeper.

For others, going mask optional felt inevitable, but this decision seems to have come too soon.

“I think it’s somewhat dependent on how many people end up deciding to not use a mask. I personally will continue to use a mask, at least for a while,” said senior Brendan Warshauer.  “I think it was going to happen eventually, so I’m not super torn up about it.”