The Arthur School Board District 305, had to make a difficult decision last Sunday evening, August 15, one of the hardest they may ever make. What should be a happy time for parents and children returning to school, has turned into a nightmare for a lot of people.
The board has been put between a rock and a hard spot, do they give in to buck the state mandate to wear a mask, or do they follow the mandate issued by Governor Pritzker on August 4? If the board decides to follow what a lot of the parents are in favor of (not to wear a mask), then they run the risk of losing state funding, accreditation, and IHSA status (no sports). When your child or children graduate, there might be an issue with their diploma status. The repercussions from this alone are unknown in the future.
While some of the school board members may agree with the public in their endeavors to keep their children from wearing masks, this isn’t their biggest concern. Their biggest concern, like it or not, is keeping an accredited school and state funding. Without state funding how do you run the school, better yet, pay the entire staff?
Superintendent Shannon Cheek, on behalf of the school district, issued the following statement Monday morning, August 16:
As we continue to navigate through this pandemic and as we prepare for the start of the school year, we were all thrown another curveball with the recent change in the return to school criteria. On Wednesday, August 4th the Governor held a press conference where he informed us all that the return to school criteria would be adapted to include a mask mandate for all school districts public and private in the State of Illinois.
Soon thereafter, the Illinois Department of Public Health and Illinois State Board of Education followed with their updated document for schools to follow which mirrored the Governor’s mandate that all students regardless of vaccination status must wear a mask while indoors.
The process that the Board of Education developed to come to a conclusion included a Special Meeting to hear from our communities and an additional Special Meeting to vote on how we would begin the school year. This decision did not come easy and many factors were considered moving forward. Although some strong opinions vary on this recent mandate, the Arthur CUSD 305 school district will begin the school year in compliance with the recent mandates. The revised plan has been posted to the website and we will continue to monitor the situation and update our students, staff and communities when any future changes are implemented. Thank you and we look forward to another successful school year.