PUBLIC EMAILS FROM THE FEBRUARY 7, 2022 BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING:

Dear School Board Members,

I’m writing to request you vote down the proposal to remove mitigations from D64 schools.

As adults, educators and parents, we have a responsibility to protect our children.  While everyone would agree that mitigation efforts in schools have their drawbacks, the fact is the pandemic is not over and we need to protect our kids’ health.   

As you know, CDC recommends universal indoor masking in K–12 schools.   Several large studies have shown the benefit of universal mask wearing, not just to students and teachers but to the community as a whole.   One study in Arizona showed the odds of a school-associated COVID-19 outbreak were 3.5 times higher in schools with no mask requirement than in those with a mask requirement implemented.  A second study (cited below), showed that ”... in the community, on average, 1 person infected with the Delta variant secondarily infects 8 other people. In contrast, in schools implementing universal masking, it would take 13 attendees who acquired COVID-19 outside of school to infect 1 person inside schools.”

It would make sense for the IDPH to provide metrics for when mitigations should be lessened (for example, when cases are less than 10-20/100,000).  The decision to drop mitigations should not be made by the non-medical community deciding arbitrarily that it’s over when we’ve just turned the corner and there is a new variant (BA.2) that may or may not prevent Omicron from dropping as quickly as we hoped.   Given that our district only has a 52% vaccination rate, it is not safe to drop mitigation efforts at this time.  If we as a district insist on doing this now, a remote option should be provided to those who do not wish to be part of this experiment with our kids’ health.

Thank you very much,

Julie Brown

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Dear Board,

Eliminating the mask mandate, social distancing, and other current guidelines in place for D64 goes against current policies in place at D207, and it’s not in alignment with Cook county or state guidelines. Removing the measures that have kept our school district case counts low and allowed our kids to remain in-person based upon a downstate court ruling is irresponsible. I ask you respectfully to wait until guidance changes before making a decision.

Furthermore, I’m disturbed by the timing of this special meeting to vote on removing all Covid protocols from my child’s school district. It demonstrates disregard for the community you serve and poor judgement in your desire to go against current guidelines established by respected medical professionals.

Sincerely,
Leslie Farrell

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Dear D64 School Board members,

I'm writing today to voice my strong opposition to Action Item 22-02-05, a proposal to remove all COVID mitigation measures.

Governor Pritzker filed an immediate motion to stay the decision.  I urge you to follow in D207's footsteps and continue the COVID mitigation measures until the case is fully adjudicated and a final decision has been reached.  Changing course midstream, while there are active appeals is reckless both with people's health and with administration/staff time.

My children are in 1st grade at Field and PK4 at Jefferson. My son's last "normal" year was PK3 at Jefferson, and my daughter has never known a "normal" school year.  I want the measures to end too, when the time is right, in an appropriate phased down approach.  Not because of some knee-jerk reaction to a legal case where a final decision has not been reached.

It is the responsibility of the Board to keep the recommended public health measures in place.

Thank you for the work you do for D64 students and families.  Please vote NO on the proposal to remove all COVID mitigation measures.

Nicole Hrycyk

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I urge that the Board of Education of Community Consolidated School District 64, Park Ridge – Niles, Illinois, direct the Superintendent to immediately revise the District’s health and safety guidelines for in-person learning to make the wearing of masks by students, employees and visitors to all school buildings optional; to remove all social distancing requirements including those at lunch time and return children to eating at tables; to remove any requirements for close contacts to be excluded; and to notify the community of that these changes are effective Tuesday, February 8, 2022.

My daughters are vaccinated and have done everything asked of them to help prevent the spread of Covid. 

This virus is here to stay, and it’s not my kids responsibility to shoulder this burden when kids all over the country and world are not wearing masks anymore.

The masks my kids wear to school are not sufficient to prevent he spread of covid or the flu; Concerning size of viral particles.

The masks I buy at Athleta do not prevent Covid; but they do prevent visual learning, they prevent my kids from seeing their teachers smile, they prevent my kids seeing their friends faces, they prevent normal social and emotional growth that this generation of kids is being robbed of.

Please let me decide what is before for my vaccinated children.

Please remove these masks that are not preventing the spread of Covid.

Let’s show Illinois that we’re applying common sense here in Park Ridge and Niles ~ 

Thank you, 

Rose Franco

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Dear District 64 Board Members and Administrators,

I am writing to express my shock and appall at how quickly a special board meeting was called to remove ALL Covid mitigation factors in our schools - within hours of the lawsuit decision being announced. D64 is not part of the lawsuit and therefore action like this does not need to be taken, especially so quickly. The rush to make this motion, and implement it immediately, gives the appearance that it is based on personal agenda, rather than making informed decisions for an entire community. What is the rush? Why are we not waiting to see how this appeal process plays out?  What is the legality of this move since D64 is not part of the lawsuit?  Are we not violating a current state mandate requiring masks in schools?  Dist. 207 is part of the lawsuit and they are staying the course until all appeals are done.

We all want a return to normal. But removing all mitigation strategies at one time, over night, seems like a disaster. Where is the consultation with local public health authorities?  Has there been any conversation with them on what their recommendations are for our specific area and what a “safe” way would be to start reducing mitigation? Why are 7 board members, with no public health training, making public health decisions for our children?  The court decision came out late Friday and the board meeting was scheduled on Saturday. I don’t see how this allowed any time to consult with CCDPH, IDPH, or ISBE, all of whom are still recommending mitigation strategies in schools.

Is the district willing to provide administrative sick days to staff who have been working harder than they ever have in their entire careers during this pandemic, and now will enter an unsafe work environment? Is the district ready for the number of subs that may be needed? We already have a huge sub shortage. Have you thought about the students and staff members who are immune compromised?  As a parent of one, I certainly have.

This is a rash decision being made with apparently no research, data, or recommendations from qualified individuals. We all want the same thing - kids to learn in-person!  Taking away all these mitigation strategies puts that at risk. I ask that you vote against this motion and take the time and necessary steps to move forward in a logical, safe, and informed manner, with the guidance of trained, public health authorities.

Nancy Nasby

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Dear Board Members and Superintendent Olson,

I am writing to let you know my VERY strong feelings regarding making any revisions to D64 Health & Safety Guidelines for In-Person learning at this time. 

1. I feel the board should WAIT to revise any guidelines until we know how this will play out with Governor Pritzker's appeal.  The last thing we want to do is yo-yo these kids around due to unneeded political power plays. No matter your stance you have to agree that sending our kids mixed messages about safety is a no-win situation for all. Even D207 is keeping the mask mandate in place until the appeal process is complete. So the message you are sending is that High School students in our community are being kept safe until a final decision can be made, while our younger population are not? 

2. I have students currently enrolled at both Washington and Jefferson. While my 1st grader is fully vaccinated, my preschooler has not had the opportunity YET.  Please don't make any rash decisions until ALL students enrolled in D64 have the same opportunity to be fully vaccinated. 

3. I'm worried if masks and social distancing mitigations are removed, our workforce of teachers, aids, administration, etc. will be at a higher risk of contracting COVID (even if vaccinated). If we don't have staff, we will be back to remote learning and that isn't good for anyone - especially our students. 

We're all tired of COVID and the disruptions it has caused in our schools and our families. This district has done a great job of keeping our students in the classrooms by listening to science and healthcare professionals. Our teachers have gone above and beyond to cover classes, lunch hours, etc. Let's not pay them back this way.  Numbers are going down which is great news, but let's safely get to a place that makes senses and then make revisions.  

Sincerely,

Lauren Rapisand

705 S. Delphia, Park Ridge

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Hello,

I hope you are doing well.  The parents and students of Park Ridge, Niles, and suburban Cook County IL are getting restless with respect to the masking mandates, especially for those of us who are already fully vaccinated and for our kids who are fully vaccinated.  We strongly feel, and science would agree, that a prolonged mask mandate is no longer a valid solution nor necessary. The one one-size fits all methodology needs to change. If anyone wants to continue to wear a mask they can, but forcing healthy kids to wear a mask is not needed. A mask on my vaccinated students who have zero symptoms is completely unnecessary. If my vaccinated students do not wear a mask in school then they do not pose any health issue or threat to anyone else. The majority of the population is suffering unnecessarily and we need to begin looking at an exit strategy to the endemic along with the unlawful mandantes that came with it. 

The latest strain of the Covid19 virus mimics seasonal influenza. I have known several kids and adults who have contracted the virus and they have all shown mild symptoms and have fully recovered. Please encourage your colleagues that the mask mandate needs to be removed.  Thank you for your time and consideration.

Patrick Paolone

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I implore you to keep all Covid mitigations in place for the time being. A small but loud group of individuals are pushing an agenda that does not speak for the majority of the community (or state, for that matter). Unmask the students will put many children , staffs and communities at risk. 

I worry not only for our students, but for our staff. We already cannot maintain full staffing, teachers already have enough burden placed on them without having to worry about their own health, the health of their students, and everything else that will come with prematurely removing mitigations.

This conversation is exhausting. I hate masks as much as the next person, but i am very concerned about the implications of removing mitigations, both in terms of public health and the political consequences of giving in to this obscenely loud minority.

I don't think it's the right time to remove the mask mandate at school. So I would like to ask the board to masks and mitigations in place to keep the kids, staff, and community safe and healthy.

Thanks

Kim

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I come to you as a parent and as a pharmacist, asking you to keep masks in place. We currently have the highest number of cases in children at any point of this pandemic. How many emails did you have from your principals this week?  In January alone, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that we had 3.5 million children affected with Covid in our country.   With these record-setting number of cases, we need to keep using the same mitigation efforts that we have been using as a district throughout the rest of the pandemic.  Masking is proven an effective, although not perfect, way to slow the spread of COVID. 

I urge the board to keep masks mandatory for the safety of our teachers, our children and our community.   

Sincerely,

Dr. Rebecca Heneghan, PharmD. 

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As a parent with a child currently enrolled in Roosevelt Elementary, I strongly urge the School Board to reject this irresponsible, unnecessary and frankly, dangerous end to the mask mandate in d64.

We can look over the border at Indiana, a state that has rejected mask mandates for schools, and consequently, has consistently had a higher Covid rate among elementary school students over the past 18 months.

The facts are clear. The science is clear.   Masks reduce Covid virus transmission, and subsequent illness.

Opposition to masks has absolutely no backing by the medical community and puts our children in needless danger of illness and possible death.

Making masks optional makes no more sense than making stopping at red lights optional, or making smoking optional, or keeping your child at home when ill to be an "optional" policy.   Our behavior affects the health of others.

Reject this motion and keep our kids safe in their own schools.

-Seth Beiderman

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Before I start, please don’t assume that my emailed comment comes with any less passion than those who attend the board meeting in person. Sitting in a room filled with anti-mask parents is outside of my comfort zone, and I know many other parents in this same position.

There is no doubt in my mind that removing the mask mandate right now is the wrong choice. It’s disturbing that this is being considered when we’re still well above acceptable case numbers in the area.

I’m tired of the anti-mask or “choice” messaging:

If your kid is vaccinated, then why do you care if others don’t wear masks? Yes, my son is fully vaccinated, but Omicron has thrown a wrench in things. As we all know quite well, the vaccinated can still catch this virus. While I’m not worried about my kindergartener, as he’s vaccinated and will fare well, I do have a toddler at home. My toddler is completely unprotected right now, and my kindergartener bringing Covid home from school could be detrimental. Plus, imagine the struggle of knowing you’re the one who made your little brother sick.

If your son is masked, then why do you care if others don’t mask? The anti-mask parents constantly tout this…they aren’t saying we can’t wear masks, but they want choice. After two years of this, we all know how it works. There is much better protection if the infected individual is masked.

So yes, I’m concerned about my toddler possibly getting ill, but it’s always been about much more than that. I’m concerned unmasking will create more teacher absences, further disrupting how we educate our kids. I’m concerned that more spread in schools will increase infections out of schools, potentially putting a further strain on our medical system.

A healthy compromise is something we should strive for. Instead of immediately removing all mitigations (the most important being masking), can we instead talk about what metrics would warrant doing so? Can all kids be given the opportunity to vaccinate before we make this change? Can we wait for numbers to go down?

I’m not asking to mask forever. In fact, I yearn for the day my son can attend elementary school mask-free. But just because we want something doesn’t make it the right choice. We simply aren’t there yet.

Be well,

Erica Green

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From John, a student in Grade 5 at Carpenter Elementary

Dear Board of Education,

Requiring people to wear masks is protecting everyone from COVID-19. By removing the mask mandate you are endangering the teachers and students. Sure, it’s more comfortable, but it’s less safe. The pandemic is already bad enough. We don’t need to make it worse by removing masks. A few months ago I saw a table that showed me that if no one wore masks, Omicron could spread in as little as 15 minutes. This is substantially shorter than a normal school day. I caught COVID a week ago. Masks and SHIELD testing kept my friends and teachers safe. Bottom line,  COVID protections are absolutely and completely necessary. Don’t take them away from us, for the world’s sake.

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My name is Jeff Katz and my son Charles Katz attends the preschool at Jefferson school.  I strongly recommend that they keep the mask mandate in place for all preschoolers especially since vaccines are not an option for our son.  We ask that you do the right thing and protect the health of our kids during this difficult time.  Masks and vaccines save lives and when everyone follows those guidelines it's a fact that infection is reduced drastically. 

Thanks,

Jeff 

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Dear District 64:

We are writing in the hopes that the district will continue to keep as many safety measures in place as possible for the staff, the students, and their families. The current pandemic is manageable specifically because of two essential items; masks and vaccines. These are our two greatest tools in the fight against COVID-19 and they go hand-in-hand while the pandemic is still occurring. The removal of masks from school could lead to potentially serious impacts within the school district and the community. 

Our hospitals are still struggling with overflow and delays which has a direct impact on the community. We recently had a family friend who experienced a significant cardiac issue which normally would have been operated on immediately, instead, they had to wait over 24-hours for a bed in the ICU to open, in a different city no less, to accommodate them. Masks and vaccines don't just keep the students and staff safe, they help our community and society function as normally as possible.   

While we understand there has been a ruling downstate, which is in the process of being appealed, we hope the school board and the District 64 administration keep  the current mitigation strategy with masks enforced. 

Jennifer and Anthony Kuzminski

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Dear District 64 Board Members,

I implore you to vote NO on the short-sighted, inappropriately politicized, and wildly irresponsible Action Item 22-02-5, to be considered at the special meeting of District 64 called for February 7, 2022. 

Do not vote to remove social distancing measures. Do not vote to make masks optional. Do not vote to make close contacts of positive cases excluded (!?!?). As of the purported effective date of the above-mentioned Action Item, our county and community will still be well within the scientifically-documented bounds of the Omicron surge. Moreover, not all members of the population who want to be vaccinated against Covid-19 are able to be vaccinated (namely: children under the age of 5). 

Sincerely,

Jessika Ishu

Resident of Park Ridge, Illinois 

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Thank you for listening to public comments and hearing different perspectives as you prepare to vote on tonight's motion. 

In my opinion, the proposed changes are quite drastic. Perhaps it would be better, if changes need to be made, to do it more gradually.

My biggest concern is the return to children eating at tables without social distancing requirements. For students who continue to choose to wear masks, they would not have the option of staying safe and protected during lunch. This negates the premise that masks are "optional" because students who opt to wear masks would have no choice but to sit next to other students, all unmasked, while they ate. Especially if the assigned seats at lunch are also removed increasing the number of close contacts they are exposed to. 

After almost 2 years of careful caution it seems irresponsible to take away all of the safety protocols in one fell swoop.

Thank you for your time,

Sean and Cathy Gormley

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I do not envy the position that you’re in. I know it must be incredibly difficult to meet the needs and requests of all your community members.

Still, I would like to advocate for my family, for teachers, for medical workers, and for vulnerable populations. All that said, I am strongly in favor of keeping the mask mandate in place.  

I was hoping that we wouldn’t be masking at this point in the school year, as infection rates would be under control by now. Our numbers are trending in the right direction, but we’re still not in a good place. The reality is that masks are the best thing we can do to help keep everyone safe at this time.

We didn’t offer a remote option for those who don’t feel comfortable in school. We didn’t mandate or even strongly encourage testing to keep infection out of schools. We aren’t requiring vaccination to limit spread or help ease the strain on our hospitals. The only option left is masking. And truthfully, it’s a great option! Nearly every credible science and medical professional speaks of the benefits of proper masking and dispels the rumors that masks are harmful.

Until we give all age groups the opportunity to vaccinate (under 5 is coming soon!) to best protect themselves and/or until community spread is at a more manageable level, we must continue masking.

We say we care about teachers. Let’s show them. We say we care about vulnerable populations. Let’s prove it.

Thanks,

Cody Green

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I am a parent of a student at Jefferson Preschool. After the current court order striking down the statewide mask mandate for public schools, I know you have some big decisions to make. I ask that you consult with our local health department and follow their guidance on COVID mitigation strategies. We must stay vigilant in listening to the experts and doing what’s best for our students, school staff, and community.

Thank you,
Tara Katz
Park Ridge resident and D64 parent

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I stand in strong support for continuing mask mandates for students and further mitigation of the other COVID strategies already in place. The loud minority of anti-vaxers are well organized and supported by groups with no ties to this District. They reject science and reject the commonplace notion that each of us must take steps for the benefit of the larger community. We are all tired of the pandemic, but the virus doesn’t care about that. We MUST protect our school age children and their younger siblings who cannot be vaccinated. I ask the Board to do the right thing and to not be swayed by a loud group of selfish people with their own political agenda. Follow the science.
Respectfully,
Joanne Tyree

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Dear Dr. Olson and District 64 Board Members,

As a parent of a high risk child, I am extremely concerned and disheartened to hear that District 64 is considering retracting social distancing practices and making masks optional for the remainder of the year. I have two children under the age of 12 that are enrolled at District 64 and they both remained remote throughout the 2020-2021 school year. Originally, we were reassured that we would have the option of remote learning during the 2021-2022 school year as well, but later, we were notified that that would no longer be the case. However, we were reassured that all precautions would be taken to ensure the safety of the children, including mask wearing by all. Once again, these reassurances that influenced our decision to enroll our children will potentially be taken away, leaving us without any options other than to unenroll our children. 

Since a large number of students and community remain unvaccinated, the only line of defense that we have against COVID-19 is the protection of masks, especially with the increase of cases due to the Omicron variant. As we have learned during the pandemic, wearing a mask offers more protection to others than to oneself, which is why it is imperative for all to wear one. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics as well as the Illinois Medical Professionals are recommending that all students and staff wear a mask, regardless of their vaccination status. I am including links to the updated guidelines and I sincerely hope that District 64 takes them into consideration. https://services.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/clinical-guidance/covid-19-planning-considerations-return-to-in-person-education-in-schools/

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5e80f9e9abd507573ed7f6c0/t/60f46f5281f38b2058921f85/1626632019100/IMPACT+letter+on+school+reopening+7.2021.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3d6D7fjCbSTQIsLlRwITP7UhJ_yN0nmNzSvUc8FQmj8NWtek84tKF_Yls

Every week, I receive emails notifying me of all the positive cases at my children’s school. These emails have become more and more frequent, and several staff members have also been out due to COVID. These children have already missed out on so much during the pandemic and continuing to wear a mask for the remainder of the year is a small sacrifice to make. We must protect those that are most vulnerable and help mitigate against another lockdown and school shut down. We’ve made it this far and making masks optional would be undoing all of our progress. The Chicago Public School District has made the responsible and correct decision to continue mask wearing by all (https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/cps-responds-after-restraining-order-issued-in-school-mask-mandate-suit/2750214/) and I urge and implore you all to do the same. As noted by CPS, the ruling does not prohibit District 64 from continuing with COVID mitigation strategies. 

Sincerely,

Bonnie 

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The court ruled that the Executive Orders masking children in school were null and void.  Even though the injunction applied only to the parties to the lawsuit, the court said the mask mandate itself was illegal and unenforceable. 

A few area districts have said, in so many words, that they continue to enforce mask mandates for various dubious legal reasons.  I hope D64 does not follow the defiant and ruinous path of more our more ideological neighbors. 

D64 could potentially incur tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney's fees litigating over masks that do not stop the spread or transmission of COVID-19.  This is not a battle worth fighting with Park Ridge taxpayer dollars. 

Parents like myself must loudly and strenuously remind school boards and administrators to follow the law.  To this end, every board member should vote AYE to formalize the existing law reflecting that masking is now optional in Park Ridge schools.   Your vote in favor of going mask optional will be both figuratively, and literally, a breath of fresh air for our community's children. 

Thank you.

Christopher Ackeret

Park Ridge resident, parent of two Carpenter students

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I am saddened that the board has so swiftly called this meeting to decide about lifting covid-19 precautions without guidance to do so from the department of public health. To lift safeguards prematurely could be detrimental to many of our most vulnerable. You must wait until our youngest kids have time to get vaccinated before throwing mitigation protocols to the wayside. Most children I know are acclimated to wearing masks--this is not a huge issue for them that requires immediate intervention. I have taught preschool during the pandemic and even 3 year olds can handle the expectation with ease and grace. It would be risky to take this stance as board members who are not health professionals. If staff or student's health was to be jeopardized by the impatience to stay the course until young children can get vaccinated or until community numbers decline, it would be unfair to the larger community. And, frankly it is offensive to the many who have had their lives turned upside down by covid, lost loved ones, or remain ill. It is a very cavalier and dismissive stance to act rashly at this moment. It will anger many people who have sacrificed and tried hard to act as community members, and justifiably so. I will never be the loudest voice in the room but that is not what this is about. I just wish for peace and safety for this community. Please consider my request when voting tomorrow evening.

Thank you,

Allison Jones

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We hope the board chooses to keep the masking policy in place until the hospitalization and community transmission numbers are at safer levels when it would make logical sense to lift some mitigation efforts.  Our kids themselves want masking to continue.  They have expressed their own concerns, such as having to return to remote if there is another spread and the fact that they understand they are protecting immuno-compromised loved ones and first responders, such as their father who is a funeral director and is seeing the aftermath of these variants and burying more bodies this month than in any month prior to this in his career, including during the entire pandemic. 

We appreciate your work and cannot imagine the stress this places on the school staff and administrators.  A change at this time will not make their jobs any easier and certainly not safer or healthier. 

Thank you,
Beth Lupo

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Please keep the masks!

We are still in a global pandemic. We were just advised to wear better masks, like KN95s, we are not out of the woods yet, and should not let our guard down. Masks and social distancing are successful mitigations that have been used for the entire pandemic to keep our children safely in school.

My child is immunocompromised. My child depends on others around him to help keep him safe. My child is fully vaccinated and has given up so much during his childhood to keep others around him safe. My child is fine wearing a mask.

Additionally, I know several people who are undergoing cancer treatment, and are immunocompromised. These people and their families depend on others around them to help keep them safe.

We need to think of others, not just ourselves.

We don’t know the long term effects of Covid 19. There are still too many unknowns. Wearing a mask for a while longer, to keep my family, friends and strangers safe, is the easiest way to keep the world safe, and my family and I are in support of wearing masks and continued social distancing.

Alexandra Meade

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If each person on the board and person opposing this mandate can say 100% truthfully they have never been to restaurant, gathering and or an event without a mask then I would see and understand where they truly stand. But you ALL know this is not the case. You can go to a party and a restaurant sit at the table enjoying your meal with friend/families company without a mask. You can be in a room full of strangers at a restaurant or gathering and not be masked. But these kids have to wear a mask still? These gets have to sit 3 to a table? They get yelled at when their mask slips down? But YOU ALL CAN GO ON WITH YOUR LIFE?! Teachers and students have masks down before school then they enter school they go on? Then all the kids go to events, sports, and the parks with it off…all completely fine but then back to school with it on?

Falcons football in park ridge HUNDREDS maybe even thousand of kids and parents NO MASKS and NO OUTBREAKS…Maine Eagles hundreds of kids and practices and wrestling meets on top of each other NO OUTBREAKS then back to school with the mask on? The pools and the parks and events uptown no masks…or is that because it’s summer and it disappears? 

Can we not play this game anymore? We all are living life before and after school with no masks, there is no need for the pretend theater at school anymore. 

For the kids and parents and staff afraid then their vaccine and N95 mask will protect them. 

-Justina Orlando
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To Dr. Olsen and members of the School Board; President Dr. Pearl, Vice President Ms. Sales, Secretary Ms. Lubinski, Mr. Kennedy, Ms. Little, Mr. Sotos, and Dr. Woitowich;

I am the father of two children in the district, one of which is immunocompromised.  Both of my children are fully vaccinated. 

There are other students, teachers, and staff which are facing their own health issues for themselves and members of their families which they see at home every night after school. The mask requirement is a basic and easy safety precaution that adds a layer of protection to all students and staff in the school building as well as other community members they come in contact with outside of the school building. 

My kids have advised me there has been an increase in substitute teachers since winter break, with even the principal and assistant principal filling in when substitute teachers cannot be found. Is the district properly prepared to cover illness for staff if there comes an influx of unmasked children into the schools on a daily basis?

The world is still in the the grasp of a global pandemic. Numbers may be falling and the severity of illness may be deemed less however now is not the time to roll back precautions over the fear of a small but very vocal group of parents who wish to bully and push their “me first” agenda.

The mask requirement is for the safety of all the children, teachers, and staff in school; just as other safety precautions such as locked doors and visitor protocols. Every person gives up a small portion of personal freedom as a sacrifice for the safety and benefit for society as a whole.

I have no issues with life getting back to “normal” however it is not time for sanctioned unmasking yet. 

Please do not be bullied by the loudest voices in the room. I ask you to continue with the mask requirement. 

Thank you and Best Regards,

Chad Meade

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My name is Elissa Reiner and I am a Carpenter and Emerson parent. I am writing to you to request that the District 64 Board of Education keep the current Covid mitigations in place as recommended by IDPH, the CDC, and the AAP. Calling an emergency board meeting to end masking, social distancing, and the quarantining of close contacts based on a temporary court ruling that District 64 is not party to does not best serve our community. It feels personally motivated to serve the agenda of a small but loud group of parents. District 207, who actually is a defendant to the case, is nobly keeping their mitigations in place until the case is fully litigated.

The last week of data on the D64 dashboard shows 62 positive students and 7 positive staff. I can only imagine how much higher these numbers would be without mitigations in place. District 64 serves medically vulnerable students and has medically vulnerable staff who deserve safe learning and working conditions. The most vulnerable in our community should be centered in our planning, not pushed aside. Mitigation removal should be based on data. Cook County and Park Ridge/Niles are still in levels of high transmission. D64’s student vaccination rate is lower than our community vaccination rate with only 52% of students vaccinated. Our youngest students at Jefferson and within the community are too young to be vaccinated. They too, deserve our protection.

Additionally, from a staffing standpoint I worry how this could affect attracting substitutes and lunch supervisors to the district. These positions are already a struggle to fill and removing mitigations will only make it harder as there are already few people who are willing to work in a high exposure environment and without mitigations even less will be willing to do so.

Furthermore, I’d like to advocate that the board develop a policy in consultation with the Cook County Department of Health and the PREA to identify the data points that would support removing or instituting mitigations in preparation for an eventual court ruling. This fighting back and forth is not healthy for our community. As both a parent and an educator it is endlessly exhausting to keep having to fight for safe learning and working conditions for my children, their peers, and myself and my colleagues. Having a set of science based guidelines for both the institution and removal of mitigations as well as a process for revisiting them would be wise.

We all wish the pandemic were over, but unfortunately, it isn’t. I respectfully request that you vote against the motion in removing D64’s COVID mitigations.

Thank you for your time.

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I am writing to ask you to require masks in schools when the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) recommends doing so to prevent COVID-19 transmission. COVID-19 is a statewide issue and school masking requirements should be imposed on a statewide level. It is important to keep staff and students healthy by mandating mask usage when recommended by our state health department. Such mandate is necessary to protect children, students and teachers, as well as the overall Illinois community. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Barbara White

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The courts have ruled that the unconstitutional mandates are no longer valid.  District 64 has no requirements to follow illogical rules imposed under no scientific support.  Masks don’t work, they have never worked, they have unprecedented detrimental effects on children, and we have known all of this for a year and a half plus now.  Stop hiding behind your lawyer and saying there is nothing you can do to improve the oppressive rules you have made our kids learn under for arduous day after day, strenuous month after month, and impossible year after year.

You have an unprecedented opportunity to actually stand up for the rights of our children and combat some of the hurt by complacency you have imposed for an unfathomable amount of time now.  Do the right thing and make masking optional as most everything should be.  Optional righteousness not tyrannical mandates.  We implore you to do the right thing and lift mask mandates for D64.  We are eternally hopeful, yet realistically pessimistic based on your past two years of horrible decision making.

Thanks for your consideration.

-Robert Rado

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Board members-  do the right thing and please vote YES to immediate revision of the current forced mask policy. Those who wish to wear masks can continue to do just that. They have choices!

Now give us, those who DO NOT want our children masked, the freedom to make a choice as well! Every grandparent, parent and school aged child in the district has had the opportunity for vaccination. We have done our duty as a society and now the control over our choices and our lives needs to end. Unmask our kids!!

-Nicole Magnuson

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This email is to support the vote for an optional mask policy for district 64. The kids have been in masks long enough. It has been 2 full years now. 

Thank you.

-Matt Magnuson

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Please keep the current health and safety guidelines in place until advice from medical / infectious disease experts suggests otherwise. My daughter has Type 1 Diabetes. On behalf of her and all other kids with underlying medical conditions - for whom these extra precautions meaningfully reduce the probability of infection and severe disease - please be reasonable. Let’s just get through the winter and past omicron. Is that really too much to ask? My daughter - and many children like her - bravely puts up with a lot - dangerous lows, ketones from highs, daily shots, pricks, nurse visits and being different when she just wants to be a kid. Is it really too much to wear a mask for a couple more months?

Thank you for your service.

With thanks and kind regards,
Lisa Stojak Lynch

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As a parent and resident of Park Ridge, I am writing this letter to express my disappointment and anger over the Board of Education’s decision to reconsider D64’s Covid-19 safety protocols.

Any change to D64’s safety protocols should be based on recommendations from the Illinois State Department of Public Health` and from the CDC. Changes should consider medical expertise and the Covid-19 metrics of our community. Instead, some members of the Board of Education are using the potential outcome of a pending lawsuit as a reason to shape school policy.

Hastily relaxing Covid protocols is reckless. It insults the sacrifice our students have made in order to protect their peers, teachers and families. It undercuts the hard work our teachers and school administrators have done. Most importantly, it puts the community at risk. A new group of younger students are about to be able to get vaccinated and our metrics are going down. The current protocols are working. Relaxing them would be a gross disservice to vulnerable residents just when we’re on the verge of making the community safer.

Thanks,

Jonathan Shkiele

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Per the order issued by Judge Grischow on Friday, February 4th, the Temporary Restraining Order states that, quote, "Defendants are temporarily restrained from". As District 64 was not named as a defendant in this lawsuit, nor any of the schools that are part of the district, a refusal of the district to continue required masking and quarantine policies that have been in place for this academic year would violate Executive Order 2021-18 Section 1, issued by Governor JB Pritzker on August 4th, 2021. 

In addition, removing existing mitigation efforts constitutes an undue burden on children and faculty who have, or are in close contact with individuals who have, compromised immune systems placing themselves and others at greater risk of debilitation or death. This undue burden would be expected to prevent school children from receiving or accessing the same quality of education as other children. 

This burden violates Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, in which no immunocompromised student may "be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance". 

This burden also violates the American Disabilities Act of 1990, in which no immunocompromised student may "be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of services, programs, or activities of a public entity".

We contend therefore that it is both lawful and morally correct to continue existing safety and mitigation efforts in place in District 64 schools.

Matt & Anne Inwood

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Honorable Board President and Honorable Board Members,

My name is Dr. Andrew Hultgren. I am an economist at the University of Chicago and the parent of Satya Dominguez-Hultgren, who is in the 8th grade at Lincoln Middle School.

I am traveling this week and so cannot attend this Board meeting in person. I deeply appreciate the Board's consideration in allowing parents to email comments for this meeting.

I understand that the Board is considering lifting the district's mask mandate and other public health interventions which limit the spread of COVID-19. I am not a lawyer and I do not profess to understand the legal cases which have prompted this discussion. However, I want to advocate strongly for the Board to follow the advice of medical experts and particularly epidemiologists in rendering its decision.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading medical expert on COVID-19, gave an interview with NBC Channel 5 just two days ago, on Saturday.  In that interview, Dr. Fauci stated:

"Before we start talking about pulling back on [masking requirements in schools], let's get the dynamic of the virus in the community low enough so that we can feel safe in pulling back on the requirement for children to wear masks."

This opinion was given in a conversation specific to the circumstances in Illinois and particularly Chicago. It is clear from this statement that Dr. Fauci does not yet believe we have reached a point where the masking requirement should be pulled back. Later in the interview it is clear that the time for ending a masking requirement is coming. However, in Dr. Fauci's view, now is not that time.

The Board has at its disposal the opinion of the nation's leading medical expert on COVID-19.  And that opinion -- regarding the mask mandate in the Chicago area -- is clear:  Do not at this time lift the mask mandate in our schools. 

Cases in Cook County are coming down at a very encouraging rate. This is fantastic news. And as a parent and a human being, I am honestly sick and tired of this pandemic. But, let's continue to hold the line until the public health officials who have dedicated their entire lives to learn how to make these decisions tell us we can safely relax these requirements.

A judge in a court is not a medical expert. Pure and simple. Further, we have the opinion of the nation's leading medical expert on COVID that now is not yet the time to lift the mask mandate in our schools, here in Cook County. Let's hold the line and listen to our experts.

Thank you for taking the time to hear and weigh this comment. With deepest respect,

Dr. Andrew Hultgren

University of Chicago 

Dept. of Economics and Energy Policy Institute at UChicago

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For the record: My name is Courtney Schmidt and I live at 908 N Delphia Ave, Park Ridge, IL 60068. 

My husband and I have been happy members of this community for the past six years and have a 4th grader at Franklin Elementary and a one year old attending daycare in our neighborhood. 

I am strongly opposed to removing the mask mandate and revising the current health and safety guidelines in our school District 64. First, at this time, a large number of children in our community are still ineligible to be vaccinated against a highly contagious and deadly virus. That should be enough reason for us to continue taking these important preventative measures. These vulnerable children, like my baby at home, need the protection of caring and responsible adults and peers. 

Second, in an educational context and setting - how can we consider teaching our children to ignore what science is showing us, and to ignore what history has taught us? Also in our educational setting, I receive emails every day from Franklin Elementary about students and teachers who are out sick and close contacts needing to be out of school. That is alarming already and without the health and safety mandates, the numbers of students and teachers out daily will surely rise. 

Lastly, my family, like all others, cannot wait for our lives to look and feel like normal again. But I have to consider how many families will never get to see their normal again, and how I know my life could never be normal again if I lost a loved one, or if my child suffered irreparable damage because of this preventable virus. 

Thank you for reading and considering my comments, it is greatly appreciated. 

Respectfully, 

Courtney Schmidt

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As parents of 3 children currently attending D64 schools, we are in support of following the ruling and making masks OPTIONAL.

It should be a parents choice and it is our rights as parents to make these decisions for our children. 

Please lift the mask mandate and follow the ruling that mandating is outside of your rights as a Board.

Thanks,
Kyle and Lindsey O’Brien
912 S Seminary Ave

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I am sending this note to share my concerns regarding the possible elimination of the Covid risk mitigations in D64.  I do believe the measures in place have been important to keep our children safe and I hope they will continue in place despite of the possible state change in the guidelines.

Thank you,

Isabella S. Campbell

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Drop the useless mandates.
It should be up to the parents to properly access their child’s risk/health, NOT the school.
CDC and WHO has provided data that cloth masks do little to provide protection.
Per WHO, children have very low risk of being infected and generally have mild symptoms and a 99.98% survivability rate.
It is long overdue for our children to have normal childhood/school experiences.
Drop the mandates now.
Follow the data and get back to normal.
Masks need to be optional regardless of vaccination status.

Kim Behrens

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Dear D64 Board Members,

I am asking you to Vote NO on Action Item 22-02-5.  

Masks and social distancing are working to keep kids safe in schools. The district has done well keeping large outbreaks at bay in the schools. 

Also masks have kept thousands of people safe from catching Covid 19 when worn correctly. My family works in health care, next to and with Covid patients. We did not get Covid from work (thankfully). 

Do not let public health measures  become politicized. It is shown masks and distancing works. My kids do not mind wearing them either. They know it’s for their safety and the safety of others. 

I am sure there will be a time when we can relax on mask mandates again, but right now is not the time. Let us rely on science and the experts to guide these decisions. 

Sincerely,

Kelly Mearis 

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D64 School Board,

I understand you will be discussing the possibility of making masks optional in our schools.  While I am happily anticipating the end of this mandate, I would like to see logic and data applied to the reasoning for making them optional.   I don’t understand why we would do away with the mandate in schools but still have to wear masks in stores, restaurants, gyms, etc.   If we do not feel it’s safe for adults to do away with masks in Park Ridge, why are we considering it for our children?   I’d like to see metrics applied to this decision for our ENTIRE community instead of making this an emotional or political decision.  

Thank you, 

Erin Gilfert

Mother of Emily Gilfert (5th Grade, Franklin), Tommy Gilfert (3rd Grade, Franklin) and Marty Gilfert (Jefferson)

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Hello, 
Thank you to the board for your tireless efforts in a turmulutous time. It does not go unnoticed or underappreciated. 

Please vote Nay to ACTION ITEM 22-02-5. Please keep masks, social distancing and testing going until public health guidance in Illinois changes. 

My reasons are:

-I have lost family members to COVID so protecting my community is a top priority for me. 

--The best way to keep schools open is to limit the spread to children and staff. 

-The more people the virus spreads to, the more likely it is to mutate into something worse.

-There is no data to show removing COVID mitigations (making masks optional, etc.) will limit the spread. In fact, it will definitely increase the spread. 

-Masks and social distancing have limited the spread of COVID. 
-Testing keeps kids and staff limits the spread 

-Lay people are using mandates as guide and removing it will signal COVID cases are not a problem when they still are a big problem

-One person can't be an expert epidemiologist, pediatrician, infectious disease expert, public health expert, economist, etc. This is why we need government guidance.

- People ignoring experts and governmental guidance is why we need mandates. We are all in this together. 

It's because of misinformation and a need to put political views and fear above protecting our neighbors that require us to mandate protection. Your Nay vote means continued protection for children, teachers and staff that work with them as well as their families at home. 

Protecting the health and lives of neighbors will always put you on the right side of history.

The mandate will be removed when public health officials see data that it is safe to do so.

Please continue to protect our health and lives NOW. Vote Nay. 

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely, 

Katherine Knapowski

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I wanted to voice my opinion regarding the Mask Mandate. 

If the science and  data dictates that masks are still our best option to prevent the spread of Covid to our most vulnerable population then we must continue to do so as a school community. 

Do I like wearing a mask? No. Do I like that my daughter has to wear a mask everyday? No. But I have taught her that sometimes we do things for the greater good. She understands and does not complain about wearing a mask. 

Angela Nuxoll

Mother of a 6th Grader at Emerson Middle School.

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I don’t understand the reasoning but I would have preferred to see the D64 Board hold this meeting following the appeal process. It feels like a inefficient use of board and administration resources. 

Our overworked administration now has to dedicate a weekend to preparing for this Monday meeting. We need to consider the bigger picture and the impact to all stakeholders. No matter what side of the mask mandate, we can all agree this is exhausting. 

Given that there is a meeting tonight, I can’t help think of the D64 staff and the desperately needed substitutes. It’s been a exhausting few years. Those families & staff nervous about removing the mandate would do better with notice. Corporate employers don’t tell employees to return to their office five days a week with a day notice. They do a phased-in approach to ensure more people can adjust and become comfortable. This is appropriate for masks too.

Compromise Suggestion: If the numbers continue to decline to a satisfactory level, why can’t the Board set a metric so that after spring break (or another date), D64 can the implement a mask optional policy?  

Many would still not be happy but it would help ease the tension in our schools and community. 

I would like to see masks phased out soon if the numbers continue to decline. We are moving in a very positive direction but don’t believe today is the day.

Best,

Maureen Hartwig

Parent of Jonah in 8th at Emerson, Graham in 6th at Emerson and Nolan in 3rd at Franklin 

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I emailing in regards to the children in school in masks. I understand the tough situation you are in however I believe it is time to remove the masks in our kids. Our children are falling behind at young (and I am sure all levels) in education. My preschooler has never seen his teacher or fellow students smile, never ready the lips of a teacher to help him pronounce words. I can attend a giant stadium full of thousand of people and remove my mask as an adult but my child if forced to wear it in a class of 10 kids. Prisoners aren’t required to be put In isolation for 10 days because it was deemed bad for mental health but my perfectly healthy child is required to quarantine from school for 10 days because he was in “Contact”with someone that had covid. We can not control the virus. It is here ti stay it maybe it will disappear. Either way I ask you take the steps to give our kids back their normal life, but their mental health and education first.  The time is now to let our children live. I believe you will be surprised when given the choice how many parents don’t send their kids in mask Thank you!

Mandy Lushniak

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I am the parent of three current district 64 students.  I am surprised that the District 64 Board is considering the removal of mitigation measures.  The use of universal face covering and close contact quarantines are advised by all public health authorities at this time.  I am concerned that the district would not be following the guidance of public health authorities in making a decision regarding public health.

I do think it is important to have some objective numbers in place that we, as a community, can works towards with the goal of decreasing mitigation measures in our schools.  It is still recommended by local and national public health experts to continue wearing masks when transmission levels of the virus are substantial or high.  Currently the entire state of Illinois remains at high transmission levels (see attached image).  
I am supportive of consideration to remove the mask mandate and reduce other mitigation measures in our district when our community has been out of substantial and/or high transmission levels for consecutive weeks.

Thank you,

Amy B. Carlson

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I wanted to provide my thoughts on the action item being discussed during the 2/7/22 Special Meeting. I do not think we should revise the District's health and safety guidelines for in-person learning at this point. I believe we should continue to follow the state guidelines for two main reasons.

First, given the high level of contagiousness seen with the current strain of COVID (even among people that are vaccinated), if we remove all social distancing and masking requirements, it's likely that there will be increased spread of illness. This, in turn, could lead to a need to return to remote learning, which would be much more detrimental to the children's learning ability than allowing them to remain in school with the health and safety protocols in place would be.

Second, the guidelines are in place to protect all of our community members, including those that are at higher risk of serious illness. All members of our immediate family are fully vaccinated and have no underlying immune system concerns, so it's very likely we would be ok, even if someone contracted COVID at school. However, we (including our elementary age children) understand that not everyone is in the same situation, and following health and safety guidelines helps keep those people safe and healthy as well. It's important that our children can learn and exhibit empathy for their friends, teachers and community members. Wearing a mask and sitting a little farther away from their friends at lunch are small inconveniences that help everyone in so many ways.

Thank you,

Elizabeth Wood

Roosevelt parent

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Please recognize the rulings in our State’s courts that mask mandates and quarantines, as currently imposed by our governor, are improper and illegal, without any delay.

Parents have the right and responsibility to care for our children and their health.  We have every right to determine whether our children wear masks, or quarantine.

Thanks very much for your prompt consideration of this important matter.

Very Truly Yours,

Daniel M. Conroy, Esq.

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This is Belisa Beharic and Admir Beharic concerned parents of a Franklin school student. We are against ACTION ITEM 22-02-5 to come to an effect on Tuesday, February 8, 2022 and request that this decision be made based on facts and not emotions. Therefore we  request that this decision be postponed until all fact are presented and parents have adequate time to examine them. Further we suggest that this be open for a vote to all parents and teachers in our district with a one or two weeks’ timeline.      

We are against the move to make the wearing of masks by students, employees and visitors to all school buildings optional or to remove all social distancing requirements including those at lunch time and return children to eating at tables; to remove any requirements for close contacts to be excluded; and to notify the community of that these changes be effective Tuesday, February 8, 2022.  For the sake of our children’s health and the health of our great teachers we ask that we all give more thoughts to this and not rush to a decision tonight.

Yes, positivity rate is down but do we all have the accurate data? Let the school provided the facts and we can all as a community decide the course for our precious kids.  We truly believe that decision should be made by all parents and teachers and not just a few who may be more vocal or more loud than others.

The last two years have been unprecedented on every level – an understatement for sure so let’s not prolong it because we are all so tired of this pandemic. Let’s look at the fact and determine the course of easing the mask mandate when it is more appropriate.  

Sincerely,

Belisa & Admir Beharic

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My name is Anne McCullah and I have two children in D64 - one at Lincoln and one at Washington. My husband and I are both transplants to the Chicago area and chose to live in Park Ridge primarily for the fantastic schools. Our kids have loved their teachers and time in the district. 

I, like so many of you, long for a return to prepandemic normalcy. As this current wave begins to subside as we near warmer weather and vaccination rates increase I am beginning to hope we will be able to move toward that soon. Today, it seems catastrophic to move to an optional masked environment. Last week, the district had 69 positive cases. I think back to the teacher in California who took off their mask for a read aloud and infected 27 other people for one positive case. If one person can infect 27, imagine how many over 60 will infect. The LAST thing that most of us want is to have to move back to remote learning because we’ve infected so many of our students and staff. 

Our 7 day rolling average number of cases is currently 409 per 100,000 indicating alarming rates of community spread. These numbers are also declining rapidly. Continuing to mask and distance will allow these levels to dip low enough that we can, at last, be safe without masks. At their current rates, we will likely see a new spike just as we are finally at a point of decline. 

Finally, I know we feel safe because COVID is nearly often mild in children. However, pediatric hospitalizations are still twice as high as any other point in the pandemic. My youngest daughter has been hospitalized twice because of her need for oxygen support. I cannot possibly describe the feeling of helplessness and lasting trauma one has from watching your child fight to breathe. Witnessing this is not something I would wish for anyone.

Rather than quickly eliminating masks, I urge you to wait for a final decision from the courts and make a plan for what metrics should be in place before it is safe to unmask. 


Thank you,

Anne McCullah

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Hello, 

Thank you to the D64 Board of Education for meeting to discuss the health and safety guidelines for in-person learning within our district in light of a recent court decision to change safety requirements regarding Covid 19 within Illinois. At this time, I do not support changing the mask requirements, social distancing or close contact exclusion within D64 for students, employees or visitors in our school buildings. Any decision to reduce or remove these requirements should be driven by health and safety experts, not a court decision.

D64 staff, families and students have worked so hard since March 2020 to keep our school buildings as safe as possible during this pandemic. A short sighted and quick change like the one proposed during this board meeting is foolish. A discussion about the timing for reducing and/or removing mask requirements, social distancing and close contact exclusions should take place, but it should be a thoughtful and planned decision that includes health metrics (e.g., Park Ridge/Niles specific Covid infection rates, vaccination rates for D64 students within K-8th grades) agreed upon by the D64 BOE and D64 administration including D64 legal counsel. The D64 community (parents, school staff) should also be included in these decisions and given ample time to prepare. 

I am hopeful that the D64 board will be thoughtful about this decision and not make a rash determination based on a court decision that does not include our district. 

Thank you to the volunteer D64 board, I am incredibly grateful for your time and dedication to our district especially as emotions run high during this time. 

Thank you, 

Catherine Gillespie

Parent of 2nd & 5th grade students at Field School 

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Here are some reasons why I am against the mask mandate:  ONE: There is no conclusive research that says masks prevent COVID.  A study completed by the American Pediatric Academy found that …”masking doesn’t appear to have affected children’s health outcomes.  If it did, we would expect states with strict mandates and delayed in-person school to have fewer cumulative cases as a rule”.  TWO: Death and hospitalization of kids that contract COVID are extremely rare.  THREE: We now have a vaccine available that according to the CDC is over 90% effective in children.  COVID is here to stay, the mask mandate has to go.  

- Donna Napadow

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My name is Courtney Bowles and I am a parent of two children in d64.  I am unable to attend the meeting tonight due to coaching my daughter's volleyball team.  I am hoping writing to you will help my voice be heard, as I cannot be there in person.  I am extremely concerned that the decision to make d64 mask optional is being rushed.  Our community Covid numbers today are TWICE as high as they the were in November, a time when this board would not have considered changing the mask mandate.  

I understand there was a recent court decision in Southern IL that is pushing this, and that a small, but loud group of citizens are asking for masks to be optional immediately.  We all have the mutual goal of masks being optional, but that decision needs to be made when the metrics that we have been following for 2 years also indicate that it's time for that change.  The time is NOT now.  

My hope is that the board can determine a metric that feels appropriate to make this decision, and follow the data that supports changes in mitigation procedures when the numbers indicate it.  We are so close to that time, but again, the time is NOT now.  

 Our world and the stats on Covid are changing at a rapid pace.  As a professional in mental health, I see children every day who are looking for stability wherever they can find it.  To change the guidelines, without data to back up the decision feels not only confusing, but irresponsible.  I emplore the board to develop a plan, with the goal in mind of becoming mask optional, but to not quickly change a safety measure that has been in place for many years because of some loud voices that are threatening law suits.  Help the children feel that your response was monitored, that you considered all of the data, and that you will make this decision when the science backs up the decision.  
Sincerely,
Courtney Bowles 

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The time to remove the masks in school is not right now. For the safety of our staff and students masks need to remain on. I urge you to think about this decision and its effects it will have on everyone. Giving this choice to students will only increase bullying, something that I know the board does not want. 

Thank you for your time,

Lauren 

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My youngest daughter was recently in remote school for 3rd grade.  During her session, the teacher was preparing the students for free writing time where they got to select their topic.  Audrey decided the topic she knew the most about was, “Getting Sick and Injured”.  When I overheard her selection and asked her to explain, she went into all the ways one could get sick and injured including how to know if you have Covid and how to avoid it.  This is her world.   Her ONLY world.  It’s all she’s known since first grade.  In the beginning, our preventative measures made sense and I applauded the school for pivoting and transforming under very challenging circumstances.  But thankfully our circumstances have changed.  The current mitigation policies need to change as well.  Both of my daughters have been vaccinated and they have both had Covid.  While some parents are not ready to move on, the reality is the current policy is not and never will be effective.  We are using our strictest measures on our least vulnerable population.  Masks in schools must become optional.  Our kids deserve to not live in fear anymore.  And our future selves will be proud of the fact that we took action when it was time.  I implore you to please be brave.  For our children.
Nicole Craig

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We are writing to urge you to put the health and safety of the kids and teachers in our community first and vote no to Action Item 22-02-5.

As parents to a 4-year-old daughter who attends pre-k at Jefferson and another 7-month-old daughter with a congenital heart defect, rendering her immunocompromised, the reversal of the mask and social distancing mandate will have a drastic impact on our family. Our 4-year-old and her classmates are not eligible to receive a COVID vaccine to protect themselves against the virus. Universal masking and social distancing are these kids’ only line of defense when they walk through the doors of the school each morning. If classmates begin to attend school without masks, the risk to our unvaccinated children will dramatically increase. 4-year-olds are just learning personal hygiene- how to blow their nose properly, or cover their mouth when they cough. The potential for germs to spread rampantly in these classrooms if masks are not required is exceedingly high.

This risk of unmasking extends beyond the walls of the schools and extends to those students’ parents, siblings, grandparents, other family members, and daily contacts, some of whom may be immunocompromised. Your decision today will have far reaching implications across this community and the families within it. Removal of the universal mask requirement will put our family, and so many other families in this community, in the precarious position of having to choose between continuing to send our unvaccinated child to school so she can learn and thrive, and risking her health, and the health and life of our other daughter. No parent should have to be put in this position.

In addition to the clear health risks optional masking will present to our children, there are mental and social concerns as well. Kids will undoubtedly notice if some kids are wearing masks and some are not. We are very concerned that this will create a division and tension amongst classmates and place unnecessary stigmas on children- regardless of whether they are masking or not. This will have psychological effects on these kids far worse than those that are caused by wearing a mask. We are also concerned that this will prompt children to remove their masks in school when they see others without them, placing teachers in the position of ensuring that those children whose parents want them to mask are complying with their parents’ wishes. Continuing the requirement of universal masking would eliminate these concerns for all parents.

It goes without saying that removing the universal masking requirement has the potential to shut our schools down and return students to remote learning. Remote learning is not an effective way of educating our children and is extremely disruptive to students and their families; it is especially detrimental to those children with special needs whose progress and development is truly reliant upon them receiving in-person services. The mental and physical health of students suffers when remote learning is implemented. The rates of mental health conditions in children, including anxiety and depression, rose dramatically last year when remote learning was in place. Our children need to be in schools and schools need to be a safe place for them to be.

Your decision today is impacting all of us. Accessing education that we, as taxpayers, are funding should never pose a health risk to our children.

Maintain the mask requirement will not risk lives, but removing it will. We urge you to make the decision that is right for the health and safety of this community.

Sincerely,

Marissa & Bill Watt

Parents to Mia Watt (Age 4)and Ava Watt (age 7 months)

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I've never offered feedback to the school board, and I think it's a good time to wade into these waters.

I first want to thank D64 from Dr. Olson on down to our tireless nurses, principals, and teachers for their incredible effort over the past two years. You have all maintained a positive atmosphere during a very difficult time.

I am writing because I believe I am part of a growing silent majority. I began this pandemic staying home, binge-watching Tiger King, and sanitizing groceries. My father (who is very vulnerable to a respiratory virus) was staying with us, and I was terrified of getting him sick.

As the pandemic has trudged forward, my views have shifted. Incredibly effective vaccines are now readily accessible for the vast majority. Omicron appears to be less dangerous for the majority of our population. I understand the exceptions to these realities, and I am sure those groups will justifiably voice their concerns.

However, speaking for my family, we have had Delta and Omicron come through our house. We have 10 vaccine shots between four family members. The risk, from our perspective, has gotten lower than the social/developmental risk to our children with the same level of mitigation measures.

We are still behaving as if this virus is novel with no vaccines and limited medical knowledge. Things have changed for the better, and our policies need to change as well.

In short, these would be my humble requests:

Testing by rapid test/antigen test only: PCRs made sense in the beginning. They don't anymore. They are too sensitive and time-consuming for an Omicron variant that is less severe for the general population. A negative antigen and no symptoms should be enough to attend school.

Masks optional inside: Those who want to continue to wear masks should be supported and accommodated. Although I haven't made this argument in the past out of respect for those who wouldn't agree, my 3rd grade daughter has very poor vision and hasn't been comfortable using her glasses in two years while wearing her mask.

No more positive case notice emails: The virus is circulating. We get it.

We've all worked together during this pandemic, but it's time to make a modest course correction toward socialization and emotional well-being. These kids need to get closer to normal life. It's time.

Thanks,

Ben Craig

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I am a parent of two children, 1st and 5th grade, one with special needs, at Field Elementary School.

I implore you to please continue to implement guidance, policies, and mitigation efforts for COVID-19 in schools in alignment with CDC, State of IL, and Cook County guidance/recommendations.

Thank you for considering my feedback when putting public health at the forefront in your decision making process for our district, administration, teachers, support staff, and most importantly, our children.

Sincerely,
Amanda Harris

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My name is William Georgakis and I live at 238 N. Delphia in Park Ridge.  I have a second grader at Carpenter Elementary and a two and a half year old that we sent to daycare in Park Ridge.

I am emailing in support of the mask mandate.  As an attorney, I would be reluctant to do anything rash based on a lawsuit that we were not a party, for a decision that will likely be reversed in a week.  

I realize in this country that any minor protective measure is met with animus.  Barely anyone is focused on controlling the pandemic, minimizing long term disability, and minimizing death.  The fact that this meeting was called at all or that these measures are being considered when nearly 4,000 people per day have been dying of late makes that clear.

But, you should consider practical matters of having enough healthy bodies so that the school can be run.  You should consider teachers, support staff, bus drivers, and cafeteria staff and how the school will run if this measure is in place when the next stronger and/or more contagious variant comes around.  If you do what you are planning to do tonight, you support sickness spreading among many unvaccinated children and an inevitable return to remote leaning.  

I support in-person learning with the only measures in place that will make that possible based on the considerations of the inevitable reality in which we all inhabit.

Sincerely,

William Georgakis

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Lots of decision making right now on your part. First, the Kindergarten craziness and now masks!

After being affected with Covid in the last few weeks, please keep masks on students and staff. My 2nd grade daughter was infected with Covid after her teacher and other classmates were as well.  She then passed it to our whole family, including her unvaccinated 4 year old sister and her fully boosted and vaccinated mom (me).

People in this community want masks off, but we need to do it when numbers show it’s safe

The people complaining about dirty masks should wash them or use paper. The kids don’t seem to mind them, the parents do. I get they aren’t fun to wear, but having Covid isn’t fun either. I am still coughing 15 days later after testing positive!

Clearly, people are sending their kids sick to school infecting others with Covid among many other  things. At least the mask protects the students and teachers a little bit.

Take them off when numbers are down, but it’s too soon! People are sick of wearing them, yes, but in the near future they won’t be. Parents need to be patient and wait until numbers are down to unmask

Let’s protect our teachers who are on the front lines. Most parents protesting against masks, would not put themselves in a classroom of children all day without a mask!

I urge you to keep our community safe and until numbers are down, keep the masks on!!

Thank you,
Megan Cronin

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This decision seems very clear and what is being done to children is an absolute crime. You were able to grow up in a school setting in a carefree, safe feeling, and not having adults making you feel scared to get close to a friend in a school building because you could get sick and die. Our children are in a war right now. We have failed them miserably and I blame the absolute negligence and greediness of administrations and governments. Our children have to deal with being scared of possible shootings in the building and now we are training them to be fearful of getting sick and are unable to develop normally in social settings. I am thankful to have the ability to not send my children into any institution that promotes this. I would like to say there is no long term studies on what masks will do or have done to these little developing bodies and lungs and these developing and impressionable minds. It is absolutely disgusting that people are okay with this and this is no longer and never was about safety. Science has been proven. We are going to have a pandemic of mental health issues and health issues from this, so don't tell me you care. Let the children be children. If you are afraid of dying get vaccinated. Leave the kids alone! Why weren't their masks during RSV and Flu season which has higher death rate for children? We really doing this for them? Of course not. Shame on all of you.

Sincerely

Disgusted Parent

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Why are mask mandates still in place after the judges ruling? This is illegal. Tomorrow my son will not be wearing a mask. Why can other schools be free but we are still living with these masks??? Makes no sense. I am beyond disappointed in the people making these decisions. Time to get out of d64

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Thank you for the opportunity to share my opinion, with the utmost respect.

 

Because of a legal technicality as of Friday, this Board of Education, in particular, is entertaining the idea of taking action and making Public Health decisions for our schools. I cannot but wonder why educators are making decisions about Public Health, for which they have no technical expertise or experience.

 

So far, mitigation strategies have repeatedly proven that schools are not at high risk for COVID-19 spread. Why would we be willing to change that? Only because of a legal loophole found downstate that questioned the legality of HOW the mitigation measures were set in place. Not because of the reasons behind them or their validity or efficacy. 

With the current mitigation measures, anchored in the mask mandate, my family receives between 3 and 4 emails a week from the two schools our kids go to about new infections and kids needing to quarantine. To be clear, it is only 3 or 4 emails because now principals have consolidated infections across grades to minimize the amount of emails parents receive.  

How does removing the mask mandate contribute to reducing the spread? IF anything it suggests infections would go up. And with increasing infections,  the likelihood of schools needing to go remote would be increasingly higher. This seems to be working against the primary purpose of our schools: keeping schools open so kids can learn.

My plea is for this Board to avoid getting caught up in a legal bureaucracy and stay focused on the district’s mission to educate:“Together we discover, learn and grow” in a safe and in-person environment.

Thanks for your time and consideration,

Mariana Eguren-Cosma

-----------

As Judge Grischow ruled the Executive Orders and IDPH rules null and void, our district must remove these mitigations immediately (all related to COVID: masking, testing, and quarantine). 

Thank you for your right and appropriate action moving forward.

Amanda Madsen

Park Ridge resident

 -------------

To whom it may concern -

Thank you for the opportunity to share my opinion, with the utmost respect.

Because of a legal technicality as of Friday, this Board of Education, in particular, is entertaining the idea of taking action and making Public Health decisions for our schools. I cannot but wonder why educators are making decisions about Public Health, for which they have no technical expertise or experience.

So far, mitigation strategies have repeatedly proven that schools are not at high risk for COVID-19 spread. Why would we be willing to change that? Only because of a legal loophole found downstate that questioned the legality of HOW the mitigation measures were set in place. Not because of the reasons behind them or their validity or efficacy. 

With the current mitigation measures, anchored in the mask mandate, my family receives between 3 and 4 emails a week from the two schools our kids go to about new infections and kids needing to quarantine. To be clear, it is only 3 or 4 emails because now principals have consolidated infections across grades to minimize the amount of emails parents receive.  

How does removing the mask mandate contribute to reducing the spread? IF anything it suggests infections would go up. And with increasing infections,  the likelihood of schools needing to go remote would be increasingly higher. This seems to be working against the primary purpose of our schools: keeping schools open so kids can learn.

My plea is for this Board to avoid getting caught up in a legal bureaucracy and stay focused on the district’s mission to educate:“Together we discover, learn and grow” in a safe and in-person environment.

Thanks for your time and consideration,

Mariana Eguren-Cosma

---------------

I sincerely hope that you will vote to end the mask mandates on the children of Park Ridge today.  So much is being lost in the continued effort to keep masks on the kids.

Thank you for considering this matter,
Mary L Kelly

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Want to cast my vote for removing the mask mandate.  My interpretation of the ruling is that our children can no longer be mandated to wear a mask as the supreme court ruling ruled.

I know there are handfuls of folks getting together to start filing lawsuits against the district.  What an epic waste of our tax dollars to defend those cases.  I have to say that with every passing day, I'm leaning towards joining them, but hoping level headed minds will prevail tonight.

PLEASE do the right thing!!!  Take the masks off!

Laura Cook

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Dear D64 board members,

As a concerned parent, with multiple children directly impacted by the state and district mask mandate, I implore the board to articulate their position on mask policy regardless of this court injunction.  Ultimately, what is the board prepared to do and when? 

It took a level head to know of this court action and still send my children to school today masked, in compliance with existing guidelines and without creating the unneeded chaos for a besieged school faculty, regardless of my family's internal beliefs.

That said, we cannot have this uncertainty hanging over the community for the rest of the school year and summer, much like last school year.  Many conversations in our circle of friends and family leave no option off the table, from private school enrollment to moving out of district or state altogether.   You owe it to the community to provide at least some clarity in the months ahead and plan for 2022/2023 school year.

We need your leadership on this important matter for our children.   A mask optional policy is inherently more equal to all students, faculty and community members, as it offers each a CHOICE.    

Reminder:

Only 9 of 50 U.S. states have a mask mandate in place yet the number of cases are not significantly lower or higher, regardless of state policy.\

https://www.newsweek.com/how-many-states-still-have-mask-mandates-place-1675939

https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view?list_select_state=all_states&list_select_county=all_counties&data-type=Cases

Thank you,

Tim Black 

------------

Hello, I'm John Bowles, parent of two children in District 64.  I wanted to voice my support for the current mitigation efforts in D64 (ie. masks and social distancing), irregardless of the recent legal rulings that might effect them.  I'd note that it would be rash and irresponsible of the school board to make changes to current policy:

while COVID numbers as high as they've been during most any moment in the pandemic,

without any change in public health guidance from the state or CDC,

without hearing first from administrators and teachers as to their input,

without a plan that isn't based solely upon personal opinions of the board, a downstate judge or the Governor.  

I'd add that having a clear, explainable plan would also give comfort to my kids as I try to explain to them why we should have faith in the decision making of our institutions (such as your own).

Thank you,

John Bowles

------------

Dear Members of the D64 School Board,

As a D64 parent and community member, I support continuing to follow the IDPH guidelines for Covid mitigation. Following school- based public health guidelines will allow us to keep our schools open safely.

Thank you,

Kristen Olson

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I believe masks should be optional in all district 64 schools and parents or individuals should have the right to choose.

“On February 4, 2022, Sangamon County Judge Grischow ruled that the emergency mask mandate and guidance from the Governor, IDPH & ISBE are void. The mask mandates in our schools are illegal. No authority exists under the law to mandate masks in our schools for children or for staff without due process.”

Although my child is not listed on the lawsuit, I understand that with this judge’s ruling all children and teachers are afforded due process of the law.

Also, respectfully it must be noted that school boards have no authority to enforce mitigations and suspend our children’s due process rights by a show of hands.  Children have been subject to the illegal actions of ISBE, IDPH, and this school board/district for the past two years. It is past time for this board to respect every child’s right to the due process before masking, exclusion, and testing can be required.  

-Jill Moyer

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My name is Ryan Gigliotti and I have one child who is a student in D64.

I would like to request and advise all school board trustees to vote in support of repealing all mask and social distancing guidelines as legally required by the temporary restraining order issued in rulings Austen vs. Pritzker and Allen vs. Pritzker by Judge Grischow.

This is my first interaction with this board and I feel it’s important to speak up at this stage after two years of dutifully following and supporting mandates which I suspected were illegal. At this time I believe you have the practical, moral and now legal obligation to do what’s right for the long term development of our children and our community.

Additionally, I will not be supporting, and will actively campaign against, any and all trustees who vote to uphold these mandates at the legal peril of this school district. I will also involve myself in litigation as necessary, up to and including, civil rights law suits where appropriate.

Thank you

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My name is Monique Gigliotti and I have one child within your District, D64.

On February 4, 2022, Sangamon County Judge Grischow ruled that the emergency mask mandate and guidance from the Governor, IDPH & ISBE are void. The mask mandates in our schools are illegal. No authority exists under the law to mandate masks in our schools for children or for staff without due process.

Although my child is not listed on the lawsuit, I understand that with this judge’s ruling all children and teachers are afforded due process of the law.

As the judge stated, “Non-named Plaintiffs and School Districts throughout this State may govern themselves accordingly.” We are informing District 64 board members and administration that we expect you to follow the law as declared by the judge.

If District 64 chooses to continue the mask mandates, vaccination requirements for staff, and close-contact quarantine, you are knowingly breaking the law and exposing yourself to significant liability. Parents are putting you on notice and are ready to take immediate legal action, including but not limited to, filing a civil rights violation claim.

Quarantines, test-to-stays, exposures, masking, testing requirements, and excluding children from school for close contact cannot be requested or enforced by our schools without giving that child or staff due process under the law.

Therefore, we expect our D64 board, staff, and parents to simply follow the law. By continuing to enforce any of these policies, the school would be willingly engaging in illegal activity. It was made clear that the mandates by the Governor and these agencies were deemed unlawful for the named students. By design, if they are unlawful for named students, they are unlawful for all students. Any legal reasoning behind your initial mandates has been voided.

We expect that when our children come to school with no masks, they will not be presented with masks to wear or pressured to put one on, nor will they be removed from their regular scheduled day in the same environment as their classmates. We expect their day not to be disrupted and that they will be allowed a proper education through their normal scheduled day.  We expect our civil rights to be upheld. Additionally, under the terms of the order, school districts cannot refuse admittance to teachers and students deemed a "close contact" of a probable COVID-19 case without due process of law.

It must be noted that school boards have no authority to enforce mitigations and suspend our children's due process rights by a show of hands. Children have been subject to the illegal actions of ISBE, IDPH, and this school board for the past two years. It is past time for this board to respect every child's right to due process before masking, exclusion, and testing can be required.

If you attempt to mask our children or enforce close contact quarantines, in or out of school, understand that we have plans for seeking due process if needed, and we will take legal action.

Signed,

Monique Gigliotti 

---------

Dear D64 Board of Education,

I am writing to you today in support of the masking & quarantine requirements that have been in place since the beginning of the school year.  These mitigations are WORKING and keeping kids in school as a whole.  While I, too, am encouraged by the reduction in case numbers recently, we are not out of the woods yet.  The levels are still higher than at other points during the pandemic when these mitigations were initially discussed and agreed upon.  The guidance from the CDC and IDPH have not changed.

Not only that, there are still several members of the community that are not eligible to be vaccinated yet, specifically those under the age of 5.  There are reports that they are close to endorsing a vaccine for this age group.  Why can't we wait until at least that point when those who choose to be vaccinated can be?

Children are resilient.  And as much as it pains me that my boys have to wear masks so often, they are used to it.  They understand it's to keep themselves and others safe from these germs.  Are they foolproof?  No.  But they do help lessen the spread of the virus.

I think the school board should be listening to scientific research and looking at overall metrics as opposed to the outspoken, selfish minority that doesn't care about the rest of the community.  At the VERY least, no decisions should be made about masking until all appeals have been exhausted through the legal system - from both sides should the ruling last week be overturned.

Please put the best interest of our ENTIRE community first.

Sincerely,

Aubrey Baumann

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REMOVE THE MASKS FROM THE STUDENTS

-Patrick Clark

-----------

I am writing to let you know that I am IN FAVOR of optional masks for our children in District 64. 

Two of my sons are currently at Field Elementary. We are very grateful they have in-person school. The biggest challenge they have faced this school year is wearing a mask all day long. They've even said their teachers are no longer providing mask breaks during the school day. A lot of times they even wear masks while outside during recess. This is a major health concern of mine because they are breathing the same stale air all day long, their masks are soiled by the end of the day, and it is distracting them from focusing on their learning. My first grader needs to further develop the ability to read lips and to clearly articulate his words as he is learning to read. Masks are impeding his ability to do so and are having a negative impact on his learning. 

I understand the initial need to wear masks to protect the public health, but feel that at this time and considering the current situation that position needs to be re-evaluated! 

Thank you for your time. Have a great day. 

Thank you,

Jasmina

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I am a parent of a Carpenter student and I do not wish to have masks optional for students or staff. CDC guidelines still call for masks indoors. Political and personal reasons aside!  Our children and community's health is more important. 

-Audelia Alvarez

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Below is my submission for public comment at the School Board special meeting on 2/7/22:

My name is Meghan Muldoon Brown, and I am the parent of a first grader at Field Elementary School in District 64.  I live at 618 Ottawa Ave in Park Ridge.  I am also a student services and special education administrator in a neighboring high school district and can see firsthand the benefits of masking every day in a school setting.  I urge the Board to continue requiring masks and mitigation efforts in our district buildings and programs for several reasons.  Our teachers and staff members in district 64 require our support in order to maintain a safe and healthy work environment.  It is an unfair expectation that our teachers put themselves and family members at risk due to the discomfort of few.  Our schools continue to remain open because of the mitigation efforts provided by the district, which includes protection for staff and our children.  The masking of staff and students is not overly burdensome and has been proven to prevent the intense spread of COVID-19.  Further, our children with disabilities significantly rely on masking and mitigation efforts in order to access their school environment.  The simple act of wearing a mask is what allows these vulnerable children to participate in school safely.  Quite simply, without others in masks, many of our community members are forced to remain in isolation from their peers, teachers, and crucial programming.  A minor inconvenience for my child should not take precedence over the safety and access of your child with a disability.  Please refer to this article referencing the recent decision in Iowa, that concludes masking to protect students with disabilities provides them an equal opportunity (FAPE) and is "both reasonable and necessary".  My sons wear masks all day every day in school, and they have thrived and flourished in their classrooms (with much thanks to our wonderful Field and Jefferson teachers).  Our kids are resilient, and they know that they are protecting others and themselves by masking.  They are able to understand that masks mean that everyone can be included, and we are teaching them to be caring community members and neighbors by taking responsibility for themselves and showing consideration for the needs of others.  

Thank you for the opportunity to share my statement, and thank you for your efforts and service in supporting our children and staff members.  This is an unbelievingly challenging time to lead in schools, and we are thankful for your commitment to the well-being of our children and their educators.

Thank you,

Meghan Muldoon Brown

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To the members of the District 64 Board of Education:

I am a lifelong Park Ridge resident and parent of a child in middle school in District 64. I am vehemently opposed to the Board of Education rushing to abandon current health and safety guidelines (specifically, further infection mitigation measures regarding mask wearing, social distancing, and close contact exclusion) for the following reasons: 

1. The Board is moving unnecessarily quickly on an issue that is still being appealed in the courts. The temporary restraining order by Judge Grischow, issued only this past Friday in downstate Sangamon County - in a case District 64 is not a party to - is currently being appealed and very likely to be set aside by the Illinois Appellate and Illinois Supreme Court. When the restraining order is set aside, Governor Pritzker's Executive Order will be reinstated and the Board will have to change back to the current safety guidelines. This back and forth would cause confusion among the staff, faculty and particularly the children about whom the Board should be most concerned.  

2. The Board has not cited any medical studies or disclosed if it has consulted with any medical professionals as to what effect the abrupt abandonment of its current safety guidelines would have on local transmission rates or the health impact on the students, staff and families in District 64. COVID-19 and its variants have created a serious public health crisis that the Board would seem eager to disregard if it votes yes to Action Item 22-02-5. My child's anxiety about COVID-19 has significantly lessened knowing that others around my child while at school are required to wear masks. If the Board were to abandon this requirement, then my child and others will not feel safe while in school and I am concerned it will negatively impact their ability to learn.  

If the Board does vote yes on Action Item 22-02-5, it will demonstrate a complete disregard of common sense and medical science and could be interpreted as an attempt to advance a callous and cruel political agenda at the expense of our children's health. Moreover, by suggesting that the effective date of such significant changes would be February 8, 2022 (mere hours after the Board is expected to vote on Action Item 22-02-05), the Board appears unconcerned with how this change will be communicated to the District 64 community to allow for staff, parents and children to understand and consider their options in light of such an abrupt change to safety and health protocols that have helped mitigate against further spread of COVID-19 in our schools and, consequently, our community.

I therefore ask that you vote "Nay" to Action Item 22-02-05, and continue to follow the same health and safety transmission mitigation measures currently in place.   

Thank you. 

-------------

As the grandparent of a precious student at Carpenter, I hope that you will continue to follow CDC guidance and require masks. Masks are still suggested for now for the health and safety of all students and faculty so we can get through this safely and faster. I do drop off and pickup and see the students using masks naturally as they enter the building without hesitation or concern.

Please be safe.

Best regards,

Beth Weinstein

------------

Let’s move forward and let parents decide if they want their kids masked or not. Please let’s follow other districts and make masks optional. 

Nicole Ancona

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I am respectfully requesting that the D64 Board make decisions about mask wearing based on science and logic, rather than on the strong feelings of those tired of dealing with a pandemic.

Letting our guard down before it is safe to do so will only prolong the pandemic. As a community, we wear masks to protect each other. We don't have the option of driving drunk because we may hurt or kill others. Likewise, we should not have the option of assembling without masks until it is safe to do so because we may hurt or kill others.

Thank you, 

Laura Morriss 

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I am a substitute teacher and a tax payer in Park Ridge. I am writing in support of the removal of the mask mandates for the children in our town. It's time to end it all and allow these children to breathe freely.

Ignoring the judges ruling is a mistake. Be not afraid!  Stand up for what is right. It's time to start thinking about the children. 

Terese Dysart

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As a D64 parent, I am gravely disappointed at the Board's consideration of changing district policy regarding the requirement of masks in schools, school exclusion for “close contacts,” and vaccination/testing requirements for school employees. I strongly urge the Board to continue to follow CDC and IDPH guidelines and now bow to political pressures. The Board's utmost concern should be the safety and health of students and staff, not the perceived inconvenience of a vocal minority. Our community is trusting you to do all that you can to keep the children and staff of D64 safe and healthy. 

Maura El Metennani

-----------

My name is Anna Sienkiewicz Bartoszuk, and I have two children within District 64. 

On February 4, 2022, Sangamon County Judge Grischow ruled that the emergency mask mandate and guidance from the Governor, IDPH & ISBE are void. The mask mandates in our schools are illegal. No authority exists under the law to mandate masks in our schools for children or for staff without due process.

Although my child is not listed on the lawsuit, I understand that with this judge’s ruling all children and teachers are afforded due process of the law.

As the judge stated, “Non-named Plaintiffs and School Districts throughout this State may govern themselves accordingly.” We are informing District 64 board members and administration that we expect you to follow the law as declared by the judge.

If District 64 chooses to continue the masks mandates, vaccination requirements for staff, and close-contact quarantine, you are knowingly breaking the law and exposing yourself to significant liability. Parents are putting you on notice and are ready to take immediate legal action, including but not limited to, filing a civil rights violation claim.

Quarantines, test-to-stays, exposures, masking, testing requirements, and excluding children from school for close contact cannot be requested or enforced by our schools without giving that child or staff due process under the law.

Therefore, we expect our D64 board, staff, and parents to simply follow the law. By continuing to enforce any of these policies, the school would be willingly engaging in illegal activity. It was made clear that the mandates by the Governor and these agencies were deemed unlawful for the named students. By design, if they are unlawful for named students, they are unlawful for all students. Any legal reasoning behind your initial mandates has been voided.

We expect that when our children come to school with no masks, they will not be presented with masks to wear or pressured to put one on, nor will they be removed from their regular scheduled day in the same environment as their classmates. We expect their day not to be disrupted and that they will be allowed a proper education through their normal scheduled day. We expect our civil rights to be upheld. Additionally, under the terms of the order, school districts cannot refuse admittance to teachers and students deemed a “close contact” of a probable COVID-19 case without due process of law.

It must be noted that school boards have no authority to enforce mitigations and suspend our children’s due process rights by a show of hands. Children have been subject to the illegal actions of ISBE, IDPH, and this school board for the past two years. It is past time for this board to respect every child’s right to due process before masking, exclusion, and testing can be required.

If you attempt to mask our children or enforce close contact quarantines, in or out of school, understand that we have plans for seeking due process if needed, and we will take legal action.

Sincerely,

Anna Sienkiewicz Bartoszuk

----------

I am concerned that D64 has not taken the appropriate steps given the TRO filed on February 4, and that the district's inaction has left itself exposed to certain and swift legal and financial liability.  The mask/no-mask argument is no longer the issue....that is an opinion-based argument, not a legal one.  The current issue before you now is the fact that a TRO is in place, it is the "law of the land," and the district is not following the law. 

Regardless of whether or not D64 is a named defendant is also a non-issue since the Covid-19 mitigation measures that D64 put in place were built on executive orders that have been nullified.  Footnotes 39 and 40 of the TRO changed the narrative here because they specifically state that the court found the ISBE and IDPH emergency rules null and void.  You have built a house on a foundation and the walls of that foundation have just collapsed...therefore the house falls with it. The TRO specifically states that Pritzker's executive orders violated students' due process rights, and those rights give students a meaningful opportunity to object to any such mitigations being levied against them.

The path of least exposure is to go "mask-optional" immediately.  There is a reason that there are over 200 districts in Illinois that have gone this route since the ruling was issued on Friday afternoon and only 146 of them were named defendants.  Going the mask optional route keeps those districts in line with the TRO, and legally compliant.  If a stay to the TRO is granted, then we revert back to mandates that were in place while the appeals process plays out.  If the TRO gets overturned on appeal...same thing...mask mandates are back in effect.

I urge all of you to remove any social/political/philosophical biases you may have, and look at this from a legal viewpoint.  By staying the course and waiting for the appeal process to play out, you are opening the door to lawsuits that are sure to follow.  I as a D64 tax payer do not want to see the district's operational fund drained by defending and/or paying out settlements to civil rights lawsuits because the district kept an illegal policy in place.

Regards,

Matt Laske

--------

I am writing to submit a public comment regarding Action Item 22-02-5. I am a resident of Park Ridge and have nieces who attend school in this district. I urge you to vote NO on this item, or at least table it for now.

According to the Board's announcement, an emergency meeting was called to "discuss the ramifications and impacts" of a decision made in a court case in Sangamon County, Illinois. There's been a substantial amount of confusion about that decision. As an attorney with over 20 years of litigation experience -- including litigating preliminary injunctions ("PI") and temporary restraining orders ("TRO") -- I'd like to shed some light on why this decision does not impact District 64.

First: Only named Defendants are subject to the court's TRO ruling. As a matter of fact, not even all of the Defendants in this case are subject to the TRO. As Judge Grischow noted on page 5 of her ruling, Hillsboro Community School District #3 is exempted from the order because the plaintiffs sued the wrong entity -- they failed to sue the Board of Ed for that district -- and therefore the court "lacks jurisdiction" over that school district. Opinion ("Op.") at 4-5. The plaintiffs were given permission to amend their complaint and add the Board of Ed for that district as a defendant, but the court made clear that none of its rulings would apply to that district until the proper procedure is followed. Op. at 5. Here, District 64 is not, and never has been, named as a defendant in this lawsuit. Therefore, the court has no jurisdiction over District 64 -- until and unless it is properly added as a named defendant.

Second: The court denied the Plaintiffs' request to be certified as a class. That means only the named Plaintiffs in the lawsuit have standing to get the benefit of any legal remedies provided by the TRO -- with the notable exception of the Plaintiffs who sued the Hillsboro Community School District #3. Again, those Plaintiffs are currently out of luck because they sued the wrong entity, so the court currently has no jurisdiction over that district.

Third: There's been substantial confusion about the court's statement that it "deemed" the IDPH and ISBE Emergency Rules "null and void." That's not a final ruling, nor can it be -- because there hasn't been a trial yet. That's why this is called a temporary restraining order; it's temporary until there's a trial where the issue can be fully resolved and the court can enter a final judgment. 

In fact, the court correctly acknowledged earlier in its opinion that under the law, it could not "at this time, decide controverted facts or the ultimate merits of the case." Op. at 5 (citing Stenstrom Petroleum Services Group, Inc. v. Mesch, 375 Ill. App. 3d 1077, 1089 (2d Dist. 2007)). What the court ruled was that based on the limited record before it at this early stage of the proceedings, the Plaintiffs have a "likelihood" of winning at trial. So, under the relevant legal standard, the court is willing to temporarily suspend the emergency rules until the trial can be held. 

But a "likelihood" of winning at trial is not the same thing as actually winning. (In fact, it's not uncommon for a party to win a motion for a TRO or preliminary injunction early in a lawsuit but then ultimately lose at trial.) And that's why the Plaintiffs here weren't entitled to a permanent injunction -- because there hasn't been a trial yet. And it's also why a court can't, at this stage of a lawsuit, make a final decision yet about whether the Emergency Rules are legally invalid. That part of its opinion appears to be legally incorrect. And that's why this decision cannot, as a matter of law, be binding on any districts that are not properly named Defendants in the lawsuit.

I realize that that seems like a pretty big mistake for a judge to make. But judges do, in fact, make mistakes. That's why we have appellate courts -- because we know judges don't always get it right, so there has to be a higher court that can review their work and correct mistakes. 

And as we know, this judge's ruling has already been appealed, and it's being handled on an expedited basis. There's no reason for this Board to jump the gun and make a wholesale change to District 64's health and safety guidelines while that litigation is still pending. If the Board acts now, and the appellate court reverses the trial judge, the students, parents, and staff of District 64 will be needlessly whipsawed back and forth and back again between two diametrically opposed policies. There's no reason to introduce such disruption and chaos into the day-to-day operations of District 64 when we all know a ruling by the appellate court is imminent and will shed more light on this situation soon enough. The more reasonable course would be to hold off at least until the appellate court acts.

Sincerely,

George Kouros

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I live in Park Ridge and have two nieces in District 64 schools. I ask that the school board reject tonight’s agenda item, or at least “table” it for a later date. 

Just as most public health experts predicted, the omicron variant led to a rapid rise in cases, peaked, and cases are now rapidly declining again. If these trends continue, then conditions will naturally improve enough that the issue of mask requirements will resolve itself. Hopefully we'll get back below 3% positivity soon -- it certainly seems like that's the trajectory we're on.

But until we get there, the numbers are still high -- high enough that under the CDC criteria, Cook County is still considered very high risk for COVID transmission. It doesn't make any sense to abandon the mitigation measures that have prevented outbreaks in our schools right now. That would be like deciding to get rid of your parachute mid-air, instead of waiting until you've landed.

As for the court ruling that was issued downstate, District 64 wasn't part of that lawsuit, so it doesn't have any effect on us. Besides, that case is being appealed as we speak. It's very short-sighted to make an immediate decision to change District 64's COVID mitigation policies when we know another legal ruling is coming out any day now that could make the Board's decision moot. Why does this have to be decided tonight? What is the rush? There's no downside to waiting until the courts are done with their work before we make any big decisions about what we should do. But there's a huge downside if we go from continuing to do contract tracing and following social distancing and masking guidelines, to suddenly abandoning all of that, and then just as suddenly having to follow it all over again if the appeals court overrules the downstate judge.

Sincerely,

Kylie Harwan

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As a parent of a child who attends school within District 64 and in light of the upcoming meeting today February 7, 2022, I thought it was important to express my opinion and vote against Action Item 22-02-5 and in support of the continuation of District 64’s current health and safety measures. 

As other school districts have expressed, the wording of the temporary restraining order issued by Judge Grischow recognizes the independent authority of school districts to implement their own COVID-19 mitigation policies and many school districts (including presumably District 64) in accordance with their collective bargaining agreements have a duty to provide a safe environment for their workers.  All of which support the continuation of District 64’s current health and safety measures.

Furthermore, school districts such as U-46 Elgin and the Chicago Public School District have already publicly stated that they will continue to implement their current health and safety measures.  Therefore District 64 would not be the only school district to continue its current health and safety measures.

Unfortunately, our community’s fight against COVID-19 is not over and common sense measures that have been implemented by District 64 should continue to be in place for at least the remainder of the school year.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Andrew Baumann

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As a District 64 parent, I would like to add my comments to tonight's meeting in regards to lifting the mask mandate and eliminating social distancing for our children at school. I urge you to use caution in this important decision. As board members it is your responsibility to look out for the best interest of all students and make our schools a safe environment for everyone.  

As you have done in the past,  it is vital that you consult with local healthcare professionals, the Illinois Department of Health, Cook County Board of Health as well as the CDC for scientific guidance before making a decision.  Positive covid cases are on the decline but are still extremely high - higher than in past months.  Continuing the mask mandate is a easy way to prevent spread of the highly contagious variant. Taking away the mask mandate puts many students, teachers and immunocompromised individuals at higher risk. D64 schools have been a safe place for our students, teachers and staff. Let's work together to keep it that way. 

Keep in mind that there were no D64 parents as plaintiffs in this lawsuit, which shows that the majority of people in our community believe in science and know that masks and vaccinations are saving lives. This ruling by a southern Illinois judge is still in the appeal process in the court system. It is important to let the decision proceed in the courts before making any changes to the mask mandate which would be hard to reverse.  

The policies and procedures that the D64 board and administration have put into  place have allowed our students to safely return to in person instruction.  We all want to keep our students in school and keep our kids healthy.  Please do not lift the mask mandate or social distancing yet, as our community is still in the depths of battling the pandemic. The end will be near, but the time is not now to make masks optional. We have come so far, let's not rush into eliminating  masks which keeps everyone safer. 

You were elected to this board to be leaders of our school system. True leadership involves making decisions based on evidence supplied by professionals and not by a fringe minority of parents who brag and are proud of not following mask ordinances and other guidelines. 

I appreciate your thorough consideration.  

Best regards, 

Karen Hein 

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Good evening.  My name is Missy Machon and I teach 2nd grade at Field.  I urge the Board to keep the masking, social distancing and quarantine/isolation protocols we have been using thus far.  This pandemic is not over, and students and staff continue to be infected with Covid-19.  We don’t know if there will be another variant that would make the number of cases rise again, so to protect all of us, it is vital that we continue with the practices that have been in place.  Thank you for your consideration.

Madolyn Machon

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I am a parent of a 1st grader at Washington and Pre-school student at Jefferson.

First, I want to applaud the students, teachers, and administrators at the D64 schools for allowing our students to be in the classroom through both the Delta and Omicron variant waves.  It is a testament to the Health and Safety protocols in place at our schools.

This board is making an objective business decision not a political or personal one, so I ask that you objectively consider your workforce to make this decision.

We all agree that the best place for a student is in the classroom.  We must have a healthy workforce to accommodate in person learning.  Teachers are already overworked, covering for lack of staff.  Aides, administration staff, and volunteers are hard to find, a current example, our school is begging for crossing guards and volunteers to help with drop/off and pickup, changing the protocol will make it that much more difficult. 

Dr. Olson, as Superintendent, is aware of these challenges, teachers are already making sacrifices to cover for a shortage in staff.  Why add additional risk to an already worn-out workforce?

Let’s be clear, there is no in-person learning if you don’t have a healthy workforce.

An objective decision uses data and COVID-19 is no different. 

We need to amend this proposal to use data to make health and safety protocol changes dependent on readily available metrics such as:

·        The positivity rate falling below 3% and

·        ICU occupancy rate in Cook County below 75%.

Mitigation protocols can be reinstituted when the metrics show high transmission in our community. 

Additionally, we must amend it to take effect on March 1 giving 3 weeks for this playout in the appellate courts, parents time to prepare their children, and align with District 207.  High schools are taking care of their workforce, shouldn’t pre-school, elementary, and middle schools do the same?

Last week this board came to the realization that all day kindergarten would move the red line close to the blue line. A healthy workforce is good for the budget, requiring less substitutes and fewer stipends, aid in acquiring talent, and allowing scenario H to become a reality.  

In addition, retention of teachers and administrators will become more difficult because you have created a less safe working environment.  This will also give teachers more fire power in the next collective bargaining session, forcing taxpayers to pay more in property taxes.  Last week this board didn’t want to make decisions that hamper future boards, this decision is no different.

I ask that you take care of your workforce, our teachers and administrators, and implement data driven metrics for protocol changes for when things are truly better.  I ask the board to vote to maintain the current health and safety protocols since we are still in a high transmission environment.  Additionally, if the board decides to implement any change, amend to delay implementation at least until March 1 for the sake of the students.

Thank You

Jason Rapisand

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If you require masks for all, you are intentionally harming the young learners with hearing problems and/or speech problems. 

If you require masks for all, you are ignoring our children's social health and mental health. 

I choose positivity for my child.

I choose social interaction for my child.

I choose joy, happiness AND SMILES for my child.

Anna G

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As a Park Ridge resident and Carpenter parent, I'd first like to thank the Board for its service.  It's a difficult role involving difficult decisions while juggling many different stakeholders.

Regarding Action Item 22-02-5, I implore the Board to vote Nay on the proposal.  While I can certainly understand that everyone has pandemic fatigue and no plan is 100% foolproof, this proposal is a rash knee-jerk reaction that would essentially remove any protections that are in place while doing nothing to further keep our schools open or safer for our children.  If anything, this would do the exact opposite.

I can empathize with parents whose children are having a tough time with masks and social distancing.  We're constantly reminding our 1st grader to keep his mask up and dry.  However, our 4 year old in daycare (who is not eligible for a vaccine) has no problem with this. I say this to point out that children are unique and that no plan will be completely one-size fits all.  However, that does not absolve neither us as their parents nor the School Board from our responsibility to do whatever we can to provide a safe environment for them.  Dismantling the current mitigation plan would be us abandoning our duty to our kids.

Masks are very politicized right now, but what if we were to think of them on the same level as snow bibs, boots or gloves?  Kids love playing in the snow, but they do not like wearing snow bibs, boots, or gloves; often complaining that it hinders their movement, gets too hot, or makes it tough to throw a snowball.  As their parent though, would you send them out to play every day in the snow in freezing temperatures without it?  If they did not have any snow gear on, as their parent would you consider it responsible if their teacher or a school administrator sent them out to play without it?  Would you appreciate it if someone else in your kid's class was not wearing snow gear, caught a cold and then gave your kid that cold?  And then your kid gave your whole family that cold?  You may shrug your shoulders and think to yourself that it happens and people get over colds.  But I'd prefer not to take that gamble every day and I would not want to be the person saying that to a family who has had someone they love die from COVID.

No plan will be perfect because humans are fallible.  Review and amend it responsibly, enforce it with empathy and without being draconian, but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater on something this important.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Ken Wong

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Thank you for calling this special meeting. I don't believe I can say anything to change the mind of those who genuinely believe that it remains in the best interest of our children to force them to wear a mask all day in school and that they are a significant danger if they are without a mask. 

We have all heard plenty of arguments for both sides of the issue.  So I would simply like to go on record and ask the board to make masks optional for D64 students.  We have had some of the strictest and longest-lasting Covid restrictions in place of any county and state in the U.S. I do not know, whether or not our stricter mitigations have resulted in our children being affected less by Covid. Nor do I know whether or not our stricter mitigations have resulted in our children falling further behind academically or more negatively impacted socially and emotionally.

Those are analyses that I am sure will come in time, but I hope we can focus on what is happening today - within D64 - and I do not mean the case numbers. We have two years of data in our schools with our students, we have vaccines, we have therapeutics.

Many thought it was too early to open school back up, and that it would be catastrophic,  but we did it, and things turned out ok. 

I have every confidence that we can also successfully join the other 40+ states and the myriad of other school districts and drop the mask mandate.  I am sure these other states and districts have parents, teachers, and school board members who share the same concerns that we do and I'm sure love their children just as much as we do, but have decided to take the step forward to get us back to a healthy state of normal. 

Thank you, 

Gemma Bolech 

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My family and I are in favor of keeping the current health precautions in effect until the end of the 2021-2022 school year, or until the CDC supports/recommends any changes. Here are our reasons:

Decisions should be based on CDC recommendations and local health guidelines. Decisions should not be based on lack of socialization or concerns about freedom. In the end, those reasons are simply less important than our health.

Wearing a mask and social distancing is a proven way to manage disease transmission, and it has worked well so far in our schools.

How in the world would tracing close contacts work if masks are removed and distancing eased?

What about numerous staff call-outs because so many have gotten sick?

Not wearing masks may force us back into e-learning, or a mix of e-learning and in-person. Speaking as a teacher myself, it is very difficult, and sometimes requires a double workload, to teach students both in person and remotely—a tremendous burden on our teachers.

Would you be willing to put yourself in our teachers’ and children’s places and come into contact with hundreds of people each day who may pass COVID on to you? Would you really be comfortable with that?

If -- heaven forbid -- a child, staff member, or parent fell ill or died due to greatly relaxed COVID prevention policies, I would be afraid of lawsuits brought against the school district and school board, or even individuals within the district, due to gross negligence – costing taxpayers a great deal and being a significant burden on this school administration.

Thank you for your consideration,

Dr. Aliza Steurer

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Please keep masking at school a mandate that we follow.  I’m a nurse, masks help reduce the spread of illness.  It’s a fact……

Thank you for all that you do no matter the outcome.  Appreciate your time and energy in making our schools a great place for kids to go.

-Krissy Arias

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Enough is enough. Make masks optional. There are "some people" that continue to want them, but for the majority we are DONE. Why do we continue to subject our innocent children to wearing them day in and day out? If anything this has done more harm than good - to their developmental growth, social interaction, and mental wellbeing. 

Again, I urge you to make masks optional going forward.

Thank you,

Stephanie Benavidez 

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The recent court ruling does not change the recommendations by health officials to continue wearing masks for the health and safety of all.  This is not a legal issue. We are still in a pandemic.  I hope the district continues to comply with public health guidelines. 

Mary Dobrinska

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Please exercise prudence in light of Friday's court rulings regarding pandemic-related mitigations in our schools. While you are elected to your roles by, and represent the community, including D64 parents, you do that by relying on information provided by experts. D64 employs curriculum experts, health and safety experts, building and maintenance experts, legal experts, operations experts.

I'm not here to argue science or politics, masks or contact tracing. I simply ask you to let the district's legal and health and safety experts complete their due diligence in light of Friday's decisions before you consider making any changes to current school policies. 

Have a good night,

Karen Bennett Burkum

401 S. Prospect 

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My name is Megan Roberts Esterling; I am a parent at Field School and a teacher in a nearby district. 

I am writing in support of continuing all covid mitigation strategies. I urge you to use this time tonight to establish a set of criteria to scale back and remove those mitigation strategies, as opposed to simply removing them. 

We know that sound decisions are based on data and science; just like the teachers in this wonderful district use data to determine what supports our children may need, the board should be using data to determine the correct time to remove (or add, as necessary) safety strategies with regard to Covid. 

I trust that you will make a decision that is based on sound science tonight, that considers the safety of all children, teachers and staff. 

Thank you. 

Megan 

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As we may not be able to attend the meeting tonight, we’d simply like to voice our support for giving students, employees and visitors to all school buildings the choice to wear a mask; removing all social distancing requirements including those at lunch time and return children to eating at tables; removing any requirements for close contacts to be excluded. 

We want our children to go back to a school experience school where they’re able to be close to friends and see facial expressions that are integral to human connection. Seeing people speak is essential to phonetic development, especially for young children, children with hearing impairment and communication disorders. Covering our kids’ faces for this extended time stops these nonverbal forms of communication, plus it makes our children more prone to anxiety and depression. I want my kids to go to school because it’s an environment that fosters the development of emotional intelligence and connection, not one that takes it away.

We don’t want our children to see that choices and rules are made for them out of fear and blind obedience. Not only are cloth masks frequently not worn correctly and don’t have high proven efficacy at stopping the transmission, but more importantly, children are at VERY low risk for hospitalization (0.1%-1.5% 24 states and NYC reported*), long term effects, or death (0.00%-0.01% 46 states, NYC, PR and GU reported*) due to COVID…Why are we continuing these practices almost 2 years later when we know so much more about this virus and its limited effect on kids? Knowledge is power and we aren’t using it to our kids' advantage if we keep them in a distant, masked world.

- The Lignelli Family

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I am emailing in FAVOR OF CONTINUING THE MASK MANDATE.

As a health care provider in this community, I find it very disheartening that this debate is even occurring. We all know that masking helps prevent the spread of disease. There is absolutely NOTHING to dispute this scientific  fact.

Here are some other key points in favor of masking that I hope you all will consider:

- We are not there yet in terms of the numbers; yes they are starting to drop again, which is good. Let's keep on this positive decline

- Masks are keeping kids safe and in school and after school activities. It is not worth the risk to chance having to return to remote learning or taking activities away like we have had to do during this pandemic. We have seen the negative emotional impact this has had on our children. Emergency room visits for  suicidal ideation, just in our community alone, was dramatically increased from previous years in our pediatric population; the need for more mental health visits also dramatically increased without enough resources to go around.

- Mask wearing supports the GREATER GOOD! We have to stop being such a selfish society and think about what is best for all of us, versus a chosen few!

- We have to also keep in mind those children that attend school with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, solid organ transplant recipients, diabetics, those with immunodeficiencies or rheumatologic conditions. If one of these children were to contract COVID, they can surely end up in the hospital, on a ventilator, or even die. DO you want your kid to be the one who gave someone else's kid COVID who has one of these underlying conditions?

- Please tell me that we are not naive enough to think that there might not be another variant right around the corner......

- Lastly, when I told my 12 yr son that I was sending this email and why, he responded that he knew because he and some of his friends talked about it at school today. When I told him that regardless of what the district says, he will ABSOLUTELY have to continue to mask at school. HE responded "Mom, I want to still wear the mask; I don't want to die or give COVID to someone else!"

Thank you for your time.

Respectfully,

Gina Palm

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Thank you for your service to this district and your consideration of the comments heard tonight.  I am writing as a D64 parent and the spouse of a teacher in a neighboring district, in support of a targeted and evidence based approach to relaxing mask and distancing protocols, rather than an abrupt cessation of same.

I sincerely hope that the board takes sufficient time to consider the factual context in which these decisions are being made, rather than looking for an opportunity to declare an end to covid mitigation strategies before such declaration is justified. As of today, we continue to receive daily emails from our child's school regarding positive covid cases within the building.  Thousands of Americans and over a hundred Illinoisans died of covid on the last date for which we have reliable data.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 2.5 million kids were infected with coronavirus in the U.S. in January 2022.  In other words, while infection and hospitalization numbers are trending favorably such that removal of classroom mitigations may be justified in the near future, we are simply not there now, by any public health metric.  In this context, a premature declaration of victory would represent a negligent approach to public health, specifically the health of children, teachers, and staff members in D64. It is deeply unpleasant to think about but the members of this board know, or should know, that any teacher or other district employee who dies as a consequence of covid-19 and whose attorney can persuade the IL Workers' Compensation Commission that they contracted the virus at work may be eligible to recover medical benefits, lost time, and permanent disability benefits payable by the district or its insurer.  The statutory indemnity benefit for an employee dying as a result of covid exposure in the workplace is $500k.  That amount of course is not inclusive of the cost of medical care for such a claim, which in many severe covid cases has grossly exceeded that amount. 

As the Chicago Archdiocese put it in correspondence to parents and stakeholders after last week's court ruling in Sangamon County, "we will lift the mask mandate in our schools as soon as we believe it is safe to do so." Given the potential social, emotional, and financial costs that may be incurred by a premature abandonment of covid mitigation attempts, I would ask that the Board use caution in its approach to relaxing masking and distancing requirements in D64.

Sincerely,

Carter Esterling

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To whomever wrote the action item for vote shall be reminded that just last Tuesday February 1, 2022, Washington Elementary reported in the covid notification email to all parents, that ELEVEN (11) students tested positive for Covid on February 1st, all one that same day.

Victor

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I believe that masks should be removed from our schools for a myriad of reasons.  First, the science has shown that this virus does not have severe effects on children as it does other age groups.  And masks do not prevent anyone from catching the virus.  Secondly, masks prevent children from picking up important language and social skills that are developed during these crucial years.  My son has speech and developmental delays and lacking the ability to read Social cues from facial expressions or the ability to see others mouths when speaking has not helped him progress in these areas.  There was a time when the masks were a necessary evil, but the benefits are now outweighed by the costs

Kevin and Kathy Hanley

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I am a parent of two children in district 64 and a teacher in district 67. I highly oppose this premature move to lift the mask, social distance, and quarantine requirements.  I look forward to the day when masking, social distancing and quarantining will not be required in schools but believe this should be guided by science and medical experts.  

Currently, the CDC is still recommending that students wear masks and social distance in school settings.  Furthermore, if the Governor succeeds in his appeal and students are instructed to wear masks again this will cause more disruption and confusion especially among our younger students.  

Thank you for your time and service to our wonderful school district. 

Nicole Burmingham 

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As a parent and taxpayer, I am urging a no vote on this effort to politicize the safety of our children, which jeopardizes our ability to attract and retain the best teachers.

This proposal sends the wrong message to potential substitute teachers and potential new hires that their safety and the safety and well being of our students is not valued.

School districts are struggling to find substitutes, we have done okay, but this puts in serious doubt our ability to find the best quality teachers for upcoming maternity leave and everyday illness.

Dr Olson has the necessary authority to adjust our safety plan as the threat of COVID changes and as cases make their way through appeal.

Dave Clarkin
Park Ridge

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I have comments to share/read for the February 7th meeting. 

As a parent of a 3yo & 5yo. While one is fully vaccinated and the other can not be, I worry for their health and safety as well as the communities . Science has proven that wearing a mask has helped cut down on the spread of covid 19 virus. This is a public health issue and keeping our children's (all childrens) safety is and should be our number one priority. 

Our region's rates are rapidly declining --- but they are still objectively worse than they have been all year. Ideally the rates will continue to decline and before we know it we could be mask free and have this virus behind us, it would be treated like the flu. 

But that is not the case right now. So until then we need to continue to follow the path we are on, keep our children safe and wear masks. We want to continue to follow science as we have done so far and are in full support of covid-19 guidelines that have been put in place. Making a change now could put our children's and community's health and safety at risk. 

Thank you for your time  and work to protect our children. 

Elana Cepa

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My name is Anastasia Akrivos.
I am the parent of a district 64 student. I would like to state that I would like for the board to vote AGAINST the mask mandate and to go mask optional” for our students and staff.
Thank you.

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I support continued masks and social distancing in line with CDC guidance.  Where this is a legal matter, the district will obviously need to consult its legal counsel.

As a parent and health care professional, I support a measured approach to discontinue masks and other safety measures in collaboration and alignment with health care professionals, infectious disease and public health officials. For decisions impacting public health, we should look to public health experts. It is the overwhelming consensus among these professional communities that masks, used correctly, safely slow the rate of infection. 

I urge the board, for the safety of our community, to consider a thoughtful and reasoned approach and avoid rushed decisions based on a single ruling that remains in appeal.   Amanda

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I am a Park Ridge resident and I have children in 7th, 5th and 2nd grade. I want to voice to you that I expect that you, the school board , will do the right thing tonight and will vote to make masks optional and to end the quarantining of healthy children to comply with the recent judgement.

A year ago in the 2020-21 school year, my then 1st grader was met with a barrage of fear and anxiety inducing rules and scare tactics EVERY SINGLE DAY of her school year. It was a constant from her teacher regarding mask wearing- no talking to your friends while eating lunch for fear of spreading the virus, no water bottles allowed out of their cubbies because children were taking too many mask breaks to DRINK WATER, nurse called in DAILY for a mask check for a child, the teacher was even unwilling to help 1st graders find their page in a textbook for fear of being too close to them which is very confusing for a young child, and the list goes on. It has impacted my 7 year old in all aspects of her life- she reverted to toddler like separation anxiety, episodes of hating herself and school, worrying and talking about how she was scared at school from the minute she got home to the minute she went to bed. 

I was hopeful that our school board was going to do the right thing and stand up for our student's rights to learn freely and attend school fearless for the 2021-2022 school year. But that was not the case, so I made a tough and heartfelt decision to home school my elementary school children this year. I  know that not everyone has the choice to do what I did for the well being of their children.  I'm not sure I will ever have the confidence in school staff that I need to send my youngest back in to school after her experience there, but I comment today in hopes that the school board is finally ready to stand up for all children and to follow the judge's order to stop the universal masking, make masks optional and to stop the quarantining of our healthy children.

Do the right thing Park Ridge/Niles, it's beyond time.

Thank you,

Allison Potaczek

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Thank you for calling this special meeting and addressing this important issue.  Our children have endured a very long two years.  

Please make masks optional for district 64.

At the beginning of the pandemic, we agreed to do what was necessary as there was little information about this virus.  Never, did I think that two years later my son would still be forced to wear a mask every single day in school.

And that we would sadly be one of the only counties in the entire country still doing so.  What we called temporary, emergency measures have now become acceptable expectations despite the availability of vaccines and therapeutics, and not to mention many of the kids having already had Covid. 

I do not know how much more we can ask from these kids, a few more weeks, a few more months? 

Again, I am not asking for masks to be banned - I am asking for masks to be optional.  There is plenty of precedence and learnings from other districts, municipalities, states, and countries to help reassure us that we are not moving forward into uncharted territory. I am confident we can do this also for our kids.  

Thank you for serving our community. 

James Bolech 

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It’s time to be done with masks. These kids have been through enough. If some parents want their children to wear masks that’s their choice but no one should be forced, especially if we followed rules and got our kids vaccinated like we were suppose to, they should most definitely not be masked. It’s unfair to all of us doing what we can to make everyone safe that just cause other people don’t want to vaccinate their kids to make everyone safe then why do we have to mask to keep them safe? Time for us to get some leniency if we are following vaccine recommendations. End the mask policy.
-Krista Tufano

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As a parent and a teacher, I understand that there has been a lot to disagree about since our world abruptly changed on March 13, 2020.  One thing I am sure we can all agree on is that we want our children to be safe.

But clearly, many of us have widely varied definitions of what safety means for our kids right now.  I keep hearing the argument from parents that their “healthy child” doesn’t need a mask so they should not have to wear one.  They say that wearing a mask is bad for their mental health.  It is pointless to get into an argument over whether someone’s mental health or physical health is more important, but the one thing that I keep getting hung up on is wondering if parents who have quote/unquote “healthy children” who they say don’t need a mask, realize how far ahead of the curve their kids already are.  Many kids who need to continue masking right now, and need others to continue masking to help maintain their physical health, are often also dealing with other issues that make school challenging even in non-pandemic times.  

Additionally, unless you are in a school all day, every day, you don’t really have a way to measure kids’ feelings about masking.  Yes, kids are sad about vacations that have been canceled and about parties and other events they may have missed while isolated and quarantined, but I spend all day every day with students and students are NOT complaining about masks.  Parents are complaining about masks, not students. 

I also think it is worth noting that somewhere along the way people have mistaken public education as a customer service business, where you tell your school district what you want and expect it to be so.  In some cases, Board members have become more concerned with appeasing parents than they have with maintaining an effective education system.  Education is NOT a customer service business.  Public education is meant to serve ALL, and in times like these when public health is of great concern, the health of ALL members of the learning community - students, teachers, staff, and administrators - must be of the utmost importance.  I ask you to think not only about the students, but also consider that classrooms are people’s place of work.  Consider if your place of work has gone back to pre-Covid status.  Do you spend 8 hour days in a room with 20+ unmasked people? If not, maybe it’s not time for teachers to have to take on that risk, either.  They have already made a lot of sacrifices to keep our schools open.  Our community transmission rate is still in the Moderate range.  Is this the time, or is there a safer time not too far away from now, that we can revisit this topic again when things are in a safer range for everyone?

Sharon Byrne

District 64 Parent

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Today, many of my children’s friends attended school in Illinois with their choice to wear a mask or not for the first time in nearly two years. Approximately 200 school districts in IL joined the thousands of districts all over our country and our world in providing a mask optional learning environment for their children. This year I’ve been carefully tracking the pandemic trajectory and there is no evidence that masking kids in schools had any effect on community transmission. But Europe already knew that and so did we, which is why it was never part of our pandemic playbook prior to April 2020. Is there a single scientist today who believes that a cloth mask is doing anything to stop a respiratory virus? Of course not. Even CNN Dr. LeAnna Wen calls cloth masks “nothing more than facial decoration”.  Yet this is what we demand of our kids. The CDC keeps putting out poorly designed mask studies, first the mannequins, then the fake school districts, and most recently the absurd phone a friend survey. We’ve ignored decades of randomized controlled mask studies which were summarised in a 2019 WHO document: “there was no evidence that face masks are effective in reducing transmission of laboratory confirmed influenza.” Covid is no different. As Dr. Cody Meissner- Chief of Tufts Pediatric and Infectious Disease Dept and US FDA Vaccine Advisory Committee member said this fall “People like to put on masks to feel like they are doing something for the pandemic.” Masks are the perception of safety, not actual safety. We need to move away from useless mitigations that don’t work and cause actual harm for some kids. We need to move to focused protection where individual students can assess their own risk. They can choose to get vaccinated and wear a high quality mask that provides one way protection for the wearer if they choose. I’ve submitted to the board and superintendent an “Urgency of Normal” toolkit designed by prominent bi-partisan and multi-national doctors and scientists who provide well documented data supporting a return to normal plan for school districts to follow. I hope you are all able to carefully review it. I’m not standing here telling anyone that their kid can’t wear a mask. I’m only asking for mask choice. “Health is about more than the mere absence of Covid 19.”
Elizabeth Juiris

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I am here representing the children, teachers  staff and 300 people in the gym that have had their right to due process violated and trampled upon for the last two years.

The judge was clear, the law is in our favor. It seems the district is conducting themselves under the guise that the ruling only applies to named plaintiffs however, the judge nullified the mandates citing that all of the covid mitigation’s the district has been utilizing have been illegal for all citizens of illinois young and old alike.

Knowing that masking and other covid mitigation’s are illegal yet continuing to enforce these illegal policies makes the board, district, and schools vulnerable to civil suits, and may I remind you, the law is currently on our side so these suits may be lengthy and tedious but are an easy win.

Your attorneys may argue and say that the judge did not have the right to invalidate the mandates however the judge has more right to invalidate the mandates than the board has to trample on our rights to due process.

This subject has divided our community and all I can say is that you’ve appeased a minority while trampling on the rights of the majority. No one is unmasking your kids or forcing them to be in close contact with others. People have the right to choose what’s best for themselves, the bottom line is everyone should have a choice.
Masks Optional is the inclusive way forward meeting the needs of each and every person.

I cannot in good conscience send my kids to school knowing that their rights are being violated, I will not consent to that.
This morning my children were turned away from the school and asked to leave because they were unmasked. They were denied their education and my child’s IEP minutes remain unfulfilled because the district willfully engaged in the illegal activity of trying to mask my child. You’re more than welcome to take the proper channels to mask these kids, you need a judge’s order to mask them. Until there is an order my children will not be masked.

We are fighting for the children that ARE suffering. For the children who have been given medical exemptions that were denied by the school. For the children who haven’t progressed in speech therapy in two years. For the children who are displaying signs of emotional and mental trauma from being masked for two years. For the kids with sensory issues to whom the mask does more harm than good.

For the parents who are called mid day multiple days because your child was having a meltdown over wearing a mask because they could not be understood because they already had a speech impediment and were frustrated beyond belief from not being able to express themselves. And so many other reasons that these mitigations cause these children to suffer.

The mask has been the cause of so many behavioral issues and regressions for so many kids who I’ve spoken with and parents who have expressed regret in having to mask them while knowing it was causing the regression and enhancing behavioral issues, stress and anxiety.

Ive been broken down to tears over choosing between masking child or moving your entire family to an area where your child would better be served without it?!

Please, I say this with the utmost kindness, this is not about you it’s about  children seeking a reprieve from the masks and mitigations that have been haunting them and causing them so much harm for the last two years.

They should have a choice and their voices should be heard.

 In the end, if we are not given options we will vote you out and file suit.

Christina Popovic

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Please make MASK OPTIONAL!!!

-Aneta Roszko

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My name is Jan, a former D64 student, and who has 2 siblings in the district and am a long time I resident. I ask that the district allow students and families to make decisions that are best for their families. If students wants to wear a mask, they have every right to, but do not violate our children's rights and mandate them to wear a mussel. My family escaped communism in Europe and came to America for freedom, as it was known as the freest country in the world. Yet, the current mandates remind them daily of what they were escaping from. Students have rights, and the Supreme Court has ruled on that countless times, such as in Tinker vs Des Moines, and according to the American Civil Liberties Union, The Supreme Court ruled in 1969 that students do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate." This is true for other fundamental rights, as well. 

I work in law enforcement and my significant other is in the military, who has fought for our fundamental rights in the Middle East, and narrowly missed death countless times, and we both find what the school board is doing is despicable. We both swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution and ALL Americans.  Our young students have a right to make choices for themselves. What the school board is doing is absolutely disgusting. Also, to the school board member in the pink shirt with the tie, you should be more respectful instead of playing on your laptop and phone almost the entire meeting - have some respect and decency for the public you were elected to represent. Also, in terms of the school board not allowing clapping, you are in direct violation of free speech, as I have studied the law extensively, and use and educate others on it daily in my line of work. The 6th circuit court of appeals, a federal court, ruled in Ison v Madison Local School District Board of Education that an Ohio school board policy prohibiting "personally directed,abusive, and antagonistic comments" violates free speech covered under the first amendment. I ask the board to do the right thing and follow the law, and allow our students and families to make choices for themselves. Enough tyranny, this is not the America I grew up knowing, and this is certainly not the America my family escaped to. 

Sincerely, 

Jan Hartman

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I’m here to talk about a lifelong, life-changing medical issue that can arise from Covid that very few know about or talk about: type 1 diabetes.  Covid has such a strain on the immune system, that it can trigger a predisposition of an autoimmune disorder, including diabetes.  According to the CDC in a report from January 14, 2022, which cites data from European countries, children less than 18 years old are 31% more likely to be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes after having Covid.  I want to prevent this from happening to more district 64 families.

My daughter was in kindergarten when she found out that her pancreas wasn’t going to make insulin anymore. We spent 4 days in the hospital learning how to manage it.  And we were lucky– some kids at diagnosis are on their death beds.  The study says that kids who are diagnosed with diabetes after Covid are more likely to be extremely sick and just hours away from death.

Until type 1 was part of our life, I had no idea what it took to thrive and survive with diabetes.  I don’t wish it upon anyone else.  I feel strongly that masks will prevent more district 64 kids from being diagnosed with covid, and therefore also type 1 diabetes.  

Since I didn’t know much about diabetes before it hit my home, let me give you a glimpse.  Managing type 1 diabetes is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week challenge.  We give her 7 shots a day just so she can stay alive.  We wake up in the middle of the night to give my daughter a juice box or insulin. We count carbs and dose her insulin 10 minutes before she eats ANYthing. The wrong amount of insulin could kill her or cause significant health issues as she gets older.  We even struggle to find a babysitter so we can have a much needed night out.

My daughter is strong and brave. I am amazed by her ability to adapt to her new normal. But diagnosis and care can be extremely difficult physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially on the entire family.  

While getting Covid doesn’t guarantee a type 1 diagnosis, scientists have clearly shown that the chances are greatly increased about the pre-pandemic baseline of diagnoses.  I am here today to prevent more families from going through this lifelong challenge.  I do not wish diabetes upon any other family if it can be prevented, and it CAN be prevented by wearing masks. Please help protect our students and families from Covid AND type 1 diabetes by continuing to require masks in school. My family and I look forward to eventually unmasking when hospitalizations and severity greatly decrease.  We’re not there yet.

Thank you for your time.

Lisa Talbert