Heyworth CUSD 4 approves Return to Learn plan, makes mask-wearing optional for students come fall

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HEYWORTH, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Wednesday night, Heyworth District 4 school board members unanimously voted to approve a return to learn plan, which includes making mask-wearing optional for students, and COVID-19 prevention strategies based on CDC guidance.

Superintendent Lisa Taylor said the district’s school space allowed for social distancing last school year, which helped with the decision for optional mask-wearing.

“Kids ate in both gyms, they ate in hallways, I think it really helped keep us in person, we were in person almost all the year except for about 6 weeks, and so were going to try to do the same thing this year,” said Taylor.

She said many parents advocated for the ability to choose whether to send their student with a mask, however, she added, things could change if cases increase.

“We take it very seriously, and we’ll pay attention this year, we review our metrics regularly, and if we need to put masks back on, then that’s the recommendation that we’ll make,” said Taylor.

Josh Verbarg, a parent in the district, said he understands both those who wish for choice in mask-wearing and those who wish to make masks mandatory.

“It’ll be interesting this year to try it without the masks, and see if there’s any difference. I think it’s definitely worth a try,” said Verbarg.

Superintendent Taylor said overall, the safety of students is always the top priority.

“Keep your kids home when you’re sick, right? The staff stays home when they’re sick. Don’t take the risk. And we did completely switch everything to google classroom last year, so if our students miss, they can get all of their work online, our teachers did a great job of putting videos up even when kids were in quarantine, and so we’ll continue a lot of those practices that were put in place,” said Taylor.

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