Huntley 158 Families & Staff,
As you are aware, Governor Pritzker issued an Executive Order on August 4, 2021 mandating universal masking in all Illinois schools. The following day, the Huntley 158 Board of Education approved the district’s recommendation for our Return to School plan, which will go into effect when the Governor’s Executive Order expires. The first day of school is rapidly approaching on Wednesday, August 18 (grades 1-12) or Thursday, August 19 (ECC & Kindergarten). We are very excited to welcome all of our students back to school in person and continue our pursuit of excellence in education in Huntley 158.
Our primary focus is giving our students the very best educational experience possible, and returning to a greater degree of normalcy in our classrooms is a major step in that direction. I recognize the division that exists in our community and society surrounding masking in schools and that it is a complex issue that provokes a wide range of perspectives. I also recognize the conviction that drives the many viewpoints surrounding this matter and its impact on our daily lives. However, the sole purpose that drives us in Huntley 158 is the responsibility to educate the children of our community; if we must wear a mask in order to teach and learn while physically in our schools and amongst our students, then we are accepting of that fact. I hope that you, too, can come to this conclusion for the sake of our shared interest: the children of our community.
With that being said, all students, staff, and visitors in any Huntley 158 school must wear an approved mask while in our buildings. The CDC, IDPH, and ISBE have clearly outlined the masks acceptable for school use, which are surgical masks and cloth masks with at least two layers of fabric. Appropriate mask guidelines as outlined by the CDC can be found here.
I want to be explicitly clear that our intention is to ensure a positive start to this school year for our students’ sake. However, if students, staff, or visitors refuse to comply with the state-wide universal masking mandate, access to our buildings will not be allowed. Detailed information about how masking will be enforced can be found on the district website or by following this direct link.
While I know there is a lot of anxiety throughout our community surrounding this topic, what I hope to offer you today is a view of our role in this crisis and how the small acts of many can lead to the most effective learning environment for all of our children. I want nothing more than for everyone in our community to be as excited about the start of the school year as we are, but we must adhere to the Governor’s mandate to ensure that this excitement and enthusiasm can remain in our classrooms, where students belong. As educators and as leaders, we have an obligation to operate in the safest manner possible for the health and well-being of our children, their families, and our greater community. I urge everyone to keep our children and the bigger picture at the forefront of our thinking. Returning to school full time at full capacity is a major victory given what we endured last school year. If we can work together and act for one another, I am certain we can make this a successful start to the school year.
Scott Rowe, Ed.D.