Letter to parents: Masks will be optional at Rochelle schools

In a letter to parents and guardians of students in all Rochelle schools sent out July 23, Superintendent Jason Harper said masking will be optional, but strongly recommended it for unvaccinated students and staff to start the school year.

No policy requiring staff and students to disclose vaccination status

ROCHELLE ⏤ In a letter to parents and guardians of students in all Rochelle schools sent out July 23, Superintendent Jason Harper said masking will be optional, but strongly recommended it for unvaccinated students and staff to start the school year.  

“Our districts will not have a masking mandate or policy enforcing the decision for a student or staff member to wear or not wear a mask while in person at school/work,” Harper said. “Masks are only required on school buses.”

Additionally, the districts do not have a policy requiring students/staff to disclose their COVID-19 vaccination status. Harper also noted that schools will not tolerate the bullying of individuals for wearing or not wearing a mask.

Depending on Ogle County Health Department guidance, a decision for an unvaccinated student or staff member to not wear a mask could lead to a higher likelihood of quarantine due to close contact with a COVID-19 case, the letter said. 

“This optional directive is subject to change based upon changes in applicable factors including an increase in COVID-19 rates or revised public health guidance,” Harper said.

Harper stressed that the topic of masks in schools is only one component of a comprehensive safety plan which is under development pending additional information from the ISBE. The plan will be published on its district website and shared with families and staff once finalized. 

“We appreciate your continued support of our teachers and staff as we work together to provide the best learning opportunities for our students,” Harper wrote. 

Masks are required while traveling on buses due to a CDC order. The order includes that all bus occupants, students and adults, shall be required to wear a mask while traveling on a school bus. 

Other prevention strategies by the districts will include continuing social distancing to the greatest extent possible, increased ventilation, daily cleaning and sanitization, reporting and tracing cases of COVID-19 amongst students and staff, exclusion of persons symptomatic from all district buildings, and other strategies. 

District administration will closely monitor possible exposure and transmission of COVID-19 in schools and respond with additional measures if needed. Metrics and mitigation measures will be published on the district website and shared with parents and staff.

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