CHICAGO - On August 30th, Chicago Public Schools will welcome students back to full in-person learning five days a week and when they do, kids will have to wear their masks.
As the great mask debate rages on with parents in the suburbs, Chicago Public Schools has made the call that masks will be required to be worn indoors by everyone, students, teachers and staff, regardless of vaccination status.
"We've come about a year and a half learning to wear masks in public and I think we just have to hang on a little bit longer," said Dr. David Zich with Northwestern Medicine.
Dr. Zich says it's the right move, noting that kids under 12-years-old are still not eligible for the vaccine.
"And these parents then can be at risk for catching it if the children get it," said Zich. "We're trying to intervene on that cycle as best we can."
The decision, which the district says was based on feedback from public health experts and the American Academy of Pediatrics, comes as the delta variant continues to surge.
"About 83% of cases being detected are this delta variant and the CDC director has now come out and called it one of the most contagious viruses of the respiratory tract that she's seen. This is trouble," said Dr. Zich.
CPS says there are some exceptions when masks can be removed, including when eating and for outdoor activities like recess and some sports.
The district also says it will ensure three feet of social distancing and therefore, some students will eat meals in their classrooms, while others will be in the cafeteria.
"As we have a higher percentage of people vaccinated, this may reverse, it may not be for the entire year, but at least right now, given what we know, it's very important we do this," said Dr. Zich.
The Chicago Teachers Union responded to the announcement saying that more needs to be done, including more school-based vaccinations and increased staffing – including nurses.