RBHS transitions to mask-recommended policy


Courtesy of RBTV

Administration members consulted with the District 208 Board of Education as well as RB teachers before changing the school’s policy.

Liam Mathews, Editor-in-chief

After nearly two years of holding school online, in a hybrid model, or with masks on, Riverside Brookfield High School has taken another step towards pre-pandemic life by adopting a mask-recommended policy. The news was released this past Sunday night as an email sent from Superintendent Dr. Kevin Skinkis informed students and parents that masks would no longer be compulsory in school.

Although RB’s “mask-recommended” policy will officially begin on February 28th, masks are not required during the “transition” week, which began on February 22nd. Students would only be required to wear masks in the five days after they return to school from a COVID diagnosis, which still warrants that students stay away from school for five days. This change comes in light of the recent decline in COVID cases and multiple court rulings effectively halting Governor J.B Pritzker’s mask mandate.

“Our numbers for February were trending in the right direction as well as the local positivity rates, and we have an extremely high vaccination rate, so we felt comfortable using the 28th as our target date,” Skinkis said.

The decision to make this week a transition into the full mask-optional policy was made after various discussions held during the institute day on Friday, February 18th. The week’s purpose is to allow teachers, students and families time to adjust to the new policy.

“We talked with the board, we talked with the teaching staff, and it was concluded that it was probably better just to do a transition this week,” Skinkis said.

Students will obviously make different choices regarding mask-wearing. Administration members have stressed the importance of understanding that everyone has their own reasons for what they choose, and respect of others will always be necessary for a safe and productive school environment. 

“Respect is the most important thing we can do right now as we transition from masks required to masks recommended,” said RB’s Principal Dr. Hector Freytas.

At this stage in the pandemic, Skinkis believes that individual students and families deserve the opportunity to decide which precautions are necessary for them to take, and which they can omit from their lives.

“For the most part, the best people that can make decisions about their child’s health is the child and their family. So we wanted to give that opportunity to our families,” Skinkis said.

Despite masks no longer being required in classrooms, various COVID mitigations remain at RB. Masks will still be required on buses and author forms of school transportation in accordance with a federal mandate, alternative lunch spaces such as the alumni lounge are open to students and the HVAC symptoms are set to increase airflow.