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Freeburg Elementary School updates guidelines to require masks in schools

“I think there should be a clarification by the district to let parents know what the responsibility was for their children when they show up,” said Rengel

FREEBURG, Ill. — Update: On Thursday, Freeburg Community Consolidated School District No. 70 sent a letter to parents clarifying its mask policy. It reads, in part:

"To ensure clarity, the District must expand their original definition of “any student or individual entering the school building needs to have a mask on their person” to the following:

Any student or individual entering the school building should be wearing an appropriate mask or face covering."

Below is the story as reported on Tuesday.

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It's been less than a week since Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker mandated that every school require students to wear masks when they return to class, and it’s already causing confusion in some local communities.

At the time of the announcement many school boards in Illinois had already decided to make masks optional, which goes against the governor’s mask mandate, and with the start of school just days or in some cases just hours away many parents are having a hard time figuring out which rules to follow.

“There is now universal masking for all of those children and everybody in their schools,” said Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker.

RELATED: Masks now required in all Illinois schools, regardless of vaccination status

When district leaders in Freeburg surveyed parents over the summer the response they received was overwhelmingly against masks.

“Just let us be free,” said Kari Foran.  “Let us choose.”

A letter sent to Freeburg Elementary parents Monday explained the district would be following the school board’s July 26th decision recommending but not requiring masks, adding that the district is reserving the right to ask a child to put on a mask if needed.

“I think it’s irresponsible not to have the kids wear masks,” said Bill Rengel.

However, the district website clearly says masks are required.

“I think there should be a clarification by the district to let parents know what the responsibility was for their children when they show up,” said Rengel.

5 On Your Side called, emailed and stopped by Superintendent Melanie Brink’s office to try and get clarification but she wasn’t available to speak since she was preparing for Wednesday’s return to school.

“I mean, pick a side,” said Foran.

Freeburg High School, which is a separate district, sent its own letter to parents explaining that they would be requiring masks after consulting with the district attorney and insurance provider.

“Schools can be held liable if they don’t follow the mandates that are put in place,” said Gov. Pritzker.  “There’s even the ability for the state to revoke recognition status for a school though I think that’s something that would happen long after other efforts are made to get a school to impose mitigations.”

It’s expected that the school board for Freeburg Elementary will revisit its mask policy at the Aug. 23 meeting.