Today I heard a story about a school District that is now mask optional because they were part of the lawsuit. There was much jubilation and many smiles yesterday as most of the kids saw their friends faces for the first time in 2 years.
I received this announcement today from Tri-Valley. You won’t know masks are now optional until you read down. Why are a lot of words better?
This does point out what has always been the problem with COVID policy: It isolates everyone instead of those at risk.
On Sunday, February 6, 2022, we sent an update to all families that our District had decided to maintain all of our Covid-19 Mitigations pending the outcome of the appeal process of the recent TRO order in Sangamon County. As expected, that decision was met with positive and negative reactions.
After several additional discussions today with our attorneys and stakeholders, it has become clear that our schools’ ability to enforce certain COVID-19 Mitigations, such as masking and close contact/exclusions, in this environment is virtually impossible. These issues have become a significant distraction in our buildings for our students, teachers and administrators.
The ruling against our state puts all schools in legal limbo with no chance of certainty and/or clarity until the completion of the legal appeal process. Our goal in our original decision was to avoid moving back and forth between protocols should an appeal overturn the judge’s TRO order.
However, due to the distractions we have encountered, we feel we have no choice but to “pause” enforcing masking and close contact/exclusions of asymptomatic individuals as we await the conclusion of the appeal process. We are hopeful for a swift decision.
Please understand that we have students and staff who are immunocompromised. It is with this in mind that we strongly recommend that all students and staff continue to wear masks while inside the school until we have further direction from the state government agencies or court rulings. However, please note that masks must still be worn on buses at all times per Federal mandate. Additionally, when traveling to other schools for extracurricular activities we will expect our athletes, employees and, respectfully request our parents, to follow our host’s COVID-19 mitigations.
Please note that if a student and/or staff is COVID-19 positive, our current COVID-19 mitigations as it relates to positive cases will be enforced. We will also attempt to notify individuals if we believe a close contact has occurred in order to monitor for symptoms. We appreciate everyone’s understanding as we navigate this unbelievably frustrating time.
Lastly, please discuss kindness, empathy and compassion with your child in relation to respecting everyone’s needs and choices. While we cannot always change the situation, we can control our actions and reactions. Let us be clear, we will strictly enforce our anti-harassment/bullying policies and protocols if needed.
We thank those that have responded with kindness and grace. We will communicate further developments as they arise. Thank you for your continued support and patience.
David Mouser and Carl Neubauer
Superintendent and Tri-Valley Board of Education President