Mask recommendation strategy makes masks optional


Ayaana Pradhan

Starting February 22nd masks will become optional for staff and students.

Allison Davids, Headlines Reporter

District 204 Superintendent Adrian Talley sent out a  message to the community about the new mask mitigation updates, this past Sunday. The district has looked over the data and will start using the mask recommendation strategy. The mask recommendation strategy will begin starting Feb. 22. This strategy applies to all students, and staff within any of the District 204 schools. Pre-K students in the program will need to wear masks still as they are unable to receive the vaccine. Students taking the bus will have to still wear masks as it is a federal requirement. 

Talley met with the DuPage County Health Department to discuss the mitigation strategies. When determining what are the best strategies there are a few factors to consider. These factors include the level of COVID-19 cases identified in the students and staff within a specific school, and COVID-19 outbreaks or increasing trends within the school and surrounding community. 

Talley mentions that the vaccination range from the zip codes in the district is 72% to 90% vaccinated. This percentage is high and shows that most of the community has received the vaccine. Talley has examined the percentage of positive cases within the school in the past month. Talley has found that the number has been decreasing. Most recently the community has been at 0.28% positive during the week of Jan. 31st to Feb. 6.

The positivity rate has been constant for the past week. The rate has been between 5% and 7.9% while the cases per 100,000 have stayed in a high range but are decreasing. The latest data is that there were 278 cases as of Feb. 10. 

The district is changing the mask mandate due to the data. Masks will be a recommendation for all students, and staff rather than required. This means students, and staff have the option to wear their masks or not. Talley goes further and explains that nobody should judge an individual’s choice. 

“With this shift, it is important for all students and staff to know we are allowing people to make their choice and there should not be any questioning why such choices are being made or bullying or harassing of people for their choices,” Superintendent Adrian Talley said from the message. 

The other mitigation strategies will still stay in place. These strategies are social distancing, hand washing, self-certification once a month, cleaning and disinfection, and ventilation. 

With the new strategy Talley goes on to say that if there is constant growth, masks will become required again.

 “We will continue to monitor the data points mentioned above to determine if they continue on their downward trajectory. If we start to see a steady increase, we will then need to re-layer our strategies and possibly bring masks back as a strategy,” Superintendent Adrian Talley said.

Once the mask recommendation strategy starts, masks could become required again. At this point though, masks are recommended but not required.