July 7, 2021
Good afternoon Norridge Parents and Families,
As we enter into the month of July, many of you are wondering what next school year will look like. We want so much, and it is our goal to make the upcoming school year be as normal as possible. The big question on all of our minds is will masks be required? Unfortunately, there is not an easy answer to this question at this time. There are many factors that must be considered: legal consequences, funding consequences, insurance coverage, recognition status, IESA and IHSA athletic eligibility, as well as the safety and quality of education that our students receive.
Governor Pritzker signed a resolution on June 25, 2021, extending his previous Executive Orders through July 24, 2021, stating schools must follow public health and ISBE guidelines for mask wearing. I have contacted the Governor's Office and the State Board of Education to express our concerns over the lack of guidance we will be expected to follow when school resumes next month, and ISBE communicated that the CDC is expected to share new guidance in July.
The Norridge Board of Education and I have the same frustrations as many of you. Since March 2020, Norridge District 80 has mindfully followed the requirements thrust upon us exceptionally well and with a common sense approach. Our students learned in a remote environment. We took all required safety precautions in order to return our students to school and a sense of normal. We learned more about the virus and how best to combat it. This was able to happen because of the incredible cooperation and understanding of the students, staff, families, Board of Education, and the Norridge community. Throughout this unprecedented time, we cautiously and carefully progressed toward a more normal learning environment, and we must continue to do so.
On June 24, I signed a letter along with 350 other superintendents in Illinois, that was sent to Governor J.B. Pritzker; Deputy Governor Jesse Ruiz, Illinois Department of Public Health; and the State Superintendent Dr. Carmen Ayala and State Board of Education Members. This letter communicates the urgency of providing clear, consistent, and sensible guidance to Illinois school districts so that we can plan for the upcoming school year and communicate those plans to our families as soon as possible. This letter also asks for expectations that are appropriate for schools and are also consistent with other settings in Illinois.
Today, I joined many other superintendents in the state by signing a letter addressed to Dr. Carmen Ayala, State Superintendent of Schools in Illinois, asking that districts be given local control on COVID related decisions, including mask wearing.
Please know we are aware of your concerns and frustrations, and as I communicated at the beginning of this letter, we are equally concerned and frustrated. Please be patient with us as we research and take into consideration the above factors and how they will impact our students, staff, and our District as a whole. Some tough decisions will have to be made if the state does not provide us with local control. I assure you that I will do everything that I can do to help Illinois School Districts receive guidance on how we will be expected to open schools next month. You and our students deserve nothing less.
In the meantime, a step you can take to voice your concerns about the mask mandate is to contact Governor J.B. Pritzker; Deputy Governor Jesse Ruiz; the Illinois Department of Public Health; and State Superintendent Dr. Carmen Ayala, Illinois State Board of Education. Below is contact information for each of these individuals:
Governor J.B. Pritzker
Office of the Governor
(217) 782-6830 or (217) 782-6831
Deputy Governor Jesse Ruiz
Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH)
Dr. Carmen Ayala, State Superintendent and State Board of Education Members Illinois State Board of Education
Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding at this time. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at 708.583.2068 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.