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Updated Reduced Mitigation Plan

February 26, 2022

Dear District 31 Community,

Yesterday I sent information communicating the reduced mitigation plan adopted by the Board of Education on Thursday night, which included a transition to a mask strongly recommended environment on March 7. This date was thoughtfully chosen in order to allow adequate preparation and support for students and staff to transition to a mask optional environment. 

As has been true for much of the last two years, last minute guidance and legal decisions have forced the district to pivot quickly even when they have well laid out and thoughtful plans. On Friday night, we were informed by the State Superintendent that the State Supreme Court had vacated the temporary restraining order issued by the judge in Sangamon County, thus preserving the governor’s authority to issue and enforce school mask mandates.

However, Governor Pritzker also shared that the CDC updated its guidance on masking to recommend masking in schools only in areas of high transmission, based on new key metrics. Based on these new metrics, Cook County is currently identified as having low transmission. As a result, Governor Pritzker has stated that masks will be optional for schools starting on Monday, February 28. In addition, the CDC’s Public Transportation Guidance no longer requires masking on buses.

After consulting with our legal counsel and continuing to follow the board directed guidance to follow health and executive mandates, District 31 will transition to this updated recommendation. Our resolve in making a thoughtful transition to a mask optional environment remains firm, even with the accelerated timeline. We urge families to have conversations with their students this weekend about their family choice and how to be respectful of the choices of others. Here are some resources for helping our students transition this weekend.

We have individuals within our community that will be anxious because of this unexpectedly sudden transition, and it is especially important that families, staff, and students exhibit grace, patience, and kindness to every person, child, AND adult. While we continue to strongly recommend wearing masks, especially while we make the transition, we will not enforce mask wearing come Monday. Our Reduced Mitigation Plan and FAQ will be continually updated as IDPH/ISBE releases new guidance over the next week, especially as related to best practices regarding mask use in limited high-risk circumstances. Following the recommendations of our health and government officials, we also continue to encourage our community to get vaccinated as the best way to prevent disease spread.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to your principals and administrative team if you have questions or concerns this weekend or may be in need of an ADA consideration.  While our intent was to have a measured transition, we are confident that our preparations and amazing teachers and staff will be ready to move forward, modeling the grace, kindness, and empathy that we are asking for from every member of our community.

Sincerely,

Dr. Erin K. Murphy
Superintendent