Unit 5 school board convenes a special meeting on Wednesday on COVID-19 rules
Unit 5 school board convenes a special meeting on Wednesday on COVID-19 rules

Unit 5 school board convenes a special meeting on Wednesday on COVID-19 rules

Unit 5’s school board has agreed on a special meeting on Wednesday afternoon. The district teachers’ union says it expects a vote on whether the masks should be optional.

The meeting is scheduled for 4.30 pm at Normal Vest Gymnasium. The agenda of the meeting calls for unspecified action on the circuit COVID-19 prevention policy involving students. This policy includes the requirement for facial coverage, which cites “significant evidence that facial clothing provides protection and reduces the spread of COVID-19.” It also includes rules related to symptom screening, social distancing, cleaning and other COVID preventative measures.

It is unclear what exactly is to be voted on Wednesday. School board chair Amy Roser said she would not be able to comment on the meeting until Tuesday morning. A spokesman for Unit 5 was also not available for comment Monday night.

The Unit Five Education Association (UFEA) teachers’ union expects the vote to be on whether to choose a mask, as some other districts have done in the wake of a Springfield judge’s decision to cancel the school’s mask mandate, a union official told WGLT. The judge’s temporary blockade of masking applied to the nearly 170 school districts that were party to the lawsuit. It is unclear whether the order also applies to districts that were does not part of the lawsuit, such as Unit 5 and District 87. As recently as last weekUnit 5’s attorney advised the district to keep demanding masks until an appeals court weighed in.

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have dropped sharply in McLean County in recent weeks following the deadly omicron rise. Unit 5 schools experienced one more than 50% decrease in weekly coronavirus cases last weekalthough the vaccination rate for children ages 5 to 11 remains low (only 24%) in McLean County.

Seeing a similar decline, several other states have recently announced a repeal of mask mandates in schools. It opens Feb. 28 in Connecticut, March 7 in New Jersey and March 31 in Oregon and Delaware. Illinois will lift its mask mandate for most indoor spaces on Feb. 28, but that does not apply to schools.

Unit 5 is McLean County’s largest school district with about 13,000 students and 1,650 employees.

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