CDC announces new updates for COVID-19 mitigations strategies in Illinois


Autumn Zayas

Students are seen walking to class during passing period just days after Illinois mask guidelines became optional.

Sarah Holzman and Allison Davids

With masks optional now, the policy affects businesses, schools, and other indoor areas. This leaves managers, superintendents, and other authorities to decide if they want to have their staff and customers be maskless or not. With cases across Illinois decreasing, the mask mandates became optional. Two weeks ago, masks became optional for students and staff at Metea Valley. So, Illinois has now officially lifted the indoor mask mandates and ended its proof of vaccination requirement beginning Feb. 28. 

According to an article from ABC Chicago, most indoor places are moving forwards with the lifting of mask requirements. J.B. Pritzker made a statement saying “Hospitalizations are way down, cases are way down, and we hope that we can sustain that for the spring and summer and, frankly, forevermore.” 

Administration announced that students and parents are no longer required to certify on StudentVue because of the low transmission levels of COVID-19 beginning March 1.

“Due to our current transmission level being low, families are not required to self-certify tomorrow, Tuesday, March 1,” the District 204 announcement said. 

However, the district administration wants to remind people that self-certifying does not mean that students are symptom-free for the entire year, but rather their health will be monitored and taken into consideration when sending them to school.

This change was announced after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ended the requirement for masks on “buses or vans operated by public or private school systems, including early care and education/child care programs.” Guidance from the CDC allowed the end of the mask requirement, as they no longer recommend K-12 and early education settings with a low or medium COVID-19 Community Level to wear masks. 

Along with District 204 students not having to wear masks or self-certify, the characteristics of transmission levels have changed due to guidance from the CDC and Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). To determine the community levels of COVID-19, the CDC looks at “new COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 population in the past seven days, the percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, and total new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the past seven days.”

Some students and staff chose to wear a mask to feel safer. With students and staff walking around the building all day long, it is possible to come in contact with the virus. The goal of the mask optional ruling is to track to see if cases rise or stay normal so that Illinois can return back to normal. 

“There are those who have an illness and if they were to get COVID-19 that would seriously compromise them, and those who have siblings who have not gotten the booster or vaccines yet. There are some people who are not even vaccinated yet. So for those reasons, it would be safer to put on my mask, even though the school masks are optional,” junior Priyanka Jidagamu said.

Masks do remain required in settings of public transportation, and hospitals. Chicago public schools are keeping the mask mandate in place as well. Meanwhile, DuPage County has lifted the school mask mandate that may or may not become mandatory again. 

Other current mitigation strategies that the district is continuing is that if students or staff are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, they should stay home. Monitoring those symptoms to see if they worsen over time, and if they do get tested or consult a doctor. Students and staff who do test positive must remain home for five days and test negative to return to the school. 

“Students and the teachers have an equal no mask to mask ratio. I have seen both teachers not wearing masks and students with no mask either,” Jidagamu said.