District 87 Superintendent Barry Reilly said he's grateful the upcoming school year will be closer to normal as all students return to the classroom.
Many health and safety protocols related to COVID-19 remain in place, however, including a mask mandate that applies to all k-through-12 schools in Illinois. Reilly said in a interview on WGLT’s Sound Ideas he doesn't expect much pushback from students, but says teachers are prepared for it.
"If a parent is adamant that their kid isn’t going to wear a mask and there is no medical reason for that that they have provided from a certified medical doctor, then the reality is they need to choose some other place to get their kid educated,” Reilly said.
Reilly said the district doesn't have enough teaching staff to offer remote learning, but said it will work with students who need to quarantine.
Reilly estimated more than 100 students in the district were homeschooled last year because of pandemic restrictions. He's said he’s not sure how many will choose that option this year. He said homeschooling may be a more difficult option this year because fewer parents are working from home.
Reilly said he's confident the district can limit coronavirus spread in full classrooms this year, but he said some infections and quarantines are inevitable. Reilly said it appears most students who contracted the virus last year got it outside of school, rather than in the classroom.
“I am confident that will continue to be the case,” Reilly said. “That doesn’t mean we will not have cases. It doesn’t mean we will not have quarantines. We absolutely will.”
Reilly said the district hasn't surveyed teachers this fall, but based on data from the spring, he believes more than 80% of the district's teachers have had the COVID vaccine.
“I am highly confident that we have a very large percentage of our staff vaccinated,” Reilly said.