Naperville schools to require masks in policy reversal

With the start of school just a couple weeks away, some suburban school districts are making a last-minute change regarding mask mandates.

All summer long vaccinated students at Naperville Central High School thought they’d be able to go back to class without wearing a mask. But with infection rates on the rise the rules have suddenly changed.

"It’s kind of hard to go back to wearing a mask because I’m so used to not wearing it anymore," said Robyn, a 16-year-old junior at Naperville Central.

But with COVID infection rates on the rise in DuPage County and Illinois, the delta variant raising new concerns, the Naperville District 203 School Board switched gears. On Monday night, it voted to mandate masks for all students this fall whether or not they’ve been vaccinated. The new rule also applies to teachers, staff and visitors to the schools.


District 203 Superintendent Dan Bridges says they are simply following the guidance of the CDC and local health officials.

"The DuPage County Health Department indicated that at this time universal mask wearing should continue in schools until all school-age children are eligible for the vaccine, and the majority are vaccinated against COVID-19," Bridges said.

Some students and parents are angry about the reversal, saying it should be they, not the board, deciding whether to wear a mask.

But others, like Robyn, say it’s just not that big a deal to mask up. "I think it’s a smart decision to go back to wearing full time masks, because it’s the best way for us to stay healthy."

The new policy means no change for elementary school students under 12 who were going to have to wear a mask anyway because they’re not eligible yet to get the vaccine.