WEGO remains masked as other schools drop policy in light of legal battle

WEGO+students+have+been+masked+since+returning+to+school+in+February+2021.

Photo by Yearbook Staff

WEGO students have been masked since returning to school in February 2021.

By Karidja Monjolo, Reporter

A Sangamon judge declared on February 4 that Governor J.B. Pritzker overstepped his authority in mandating masks in schools, causing many local schools to drop their own mask mandates, but West Chicago Community High School remains masked.

Following a recent lawsuit, Illinois schools all across the state are questioning the mask mandate. The original lawsuit, filed against 145 separate school districts (not including West Chicago Community High School) called for an end to masks, required quarantines, and vaccinations for staff. 

The effectiveness of masks is inconclusive.

According to Nurse Cathy Collins-Clarke, a University of Illinois graduate and WEGO employee since August 2019, “I  don’t know if the Omicron masks are stopping it, because people are still getting it.”

Students also seem to differ in opinion regarding the masks and whether or not they are effective.  Freshman Ryan Zeitler expressed his disfavor when asked if he would be wearing a mask after the mandate is lifted. He said,  “No, because I don’t like them. There’s no point to them.”

“I’m anxious about taking it off, so I’m going to still wear it. I hope others do too,” said freshman Pamela Cruz. 

The decision to lift the mask mandate continues, despite the Center for Disease Control (CDC) warning to keep the mandate in effect.  

“Now is not the moment. Right now, our CDC guidance has not changed. We continue to endorse universal masking in schools,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, in an interview on February 8.

ROAR mentees and attendees masked at last week’s event, despite the February 4 ruling, which administration determined did not directly impact WEGO. (Photo by Yearbook Staff)

The WEGO administration has decided students will remain masked until further notice. On February 6, District 94 Superintendent Moses Cheng issued a memo to parents, students and staff outlining the school’s stance on masking and other COVID-19 regulations.

In the memo, Cheng said, “Until clarification and final determinations are made, consistency in our COVID mitigation procedures will allow us to maintain what is best for the entire Wildcat community.” 

In Illinois, schools across the state have seen student and parent-led demonstrations. Naperville Central High School, Hinsdale South, and several others became the sites of protest. Students at Neuqua Valley staged a maskless walk-in, and when students were denied access to their classrooms, they joined a group of 40-50 protesters consisting of students and parents at the front entrance.

The most recent reports suggest all schools in Illinois will move to mask-optional policies as of March 5. In the meantime, individual districts have already dropped the mandate within their own schools. WEGO students, for now, will continue to mask.