Petition to End Mandatory Masking in Illinois Schools
Petition to End Mandatory Masking in Illinois Schools
After two years of chaos, Illinois school children deserve a normal childhood and the return to a school environment focused on education. We, concerned parents of Glen Ellyn school age children, ask that you take immediate action to withdraw the school mask mandate called for in Executive Order 18 (“EO18”) and allow the optional use of face coverings in Illinois schools subject to the Order. This change is now a moral imperative in that the conditions precedent for the Order no longer exist and forced masking by the state is unnecessary and potentially harmful to children.
WHY WE PETITION FOR THIS:
Underpinning EO18 was the emergence of the Delta variant of Covid-19, believed to be “more transmissible than previously circulating strains” and potentially causing more severe disease. The CDC has affirmed that “COVID-19 vaccines approved or authorized in the United States are highly effective at preventing severe disease and death, including against the Delta variant” and continued to encourage everyone aged 12 and older to get vaccinated. 
By the time Governor Pritzker issued EO18 on August 4, 2021, everyone in Illinois twelve years old and above had the opportunity to be vaccinated against Covid-19. It stands to reason then that Governor Pritzker’s primary concern was protection against the Delta variant for schoolchildren between the ages of 5 and 11 who had not yet had the opportunity to be vaccinated.
We now live in a world where all Illinoisans aged five and above have the option to be vaccinated against Covid-19. In fact, more than 70% of Illinoisans five and above are fully vaccinated, and more than 80% have had at least one dose.  In DuPage County, where our children live, the numbers are even higher – 80% and 88%. This is a remarkable accomplishment in the space of one year over which there has been a phased rollout.
The other significant change since the entry of EO18 is the diminution of the Delta variant. Delta is now uncommon in Illinois – comprising less than 20% of infections and trending downward. The predominant variant is now Omicron. This is another positive sign for Illinois as Omicron is widely understood to cause less severe disease than Delta. A recent study indicates that the incidence of hospitalization with Omicron is approximately one third of that for Delta.
The availability of vaccines and the decreased virulence of Covid-19 are substantial factors to consider when setting school policy. But we should also not lose sight of the most important data from the last two years, which confirms that children are the least vulnerable demographic. During the length of the pandemic, less than 2% of child Covid-19 cases resulted in hospitalization and less than 0.02% resulted in death. The risk faced by children as a demographic group is extraordinarily small and simply does not warrant state imposition of obtrusive mitigations.
According to a recent article on NPR, which includes direct citations to data sources: “The United States is an outlier in recommending masks from the age of 2 years old. The World Health Organization does not recommend masks for children under age 5, while the European equivalent of the CDC doesn't recommend them for children under age 12.”
Indeed, most other US states and countries recognize that there is harm in masking children. For example, the Irish Department of Health confirmed that it does not require primary school students to wear masks due to the potential harms to children including the potential for anxiety and the potential for negative impact on the development of human connection and language skills. Similarly, in England, masks in school were a rarity even during the Delta outbreak with the British government focusing on less obtrusive measures such as quarantining and rapid testing because it recognized that the harms of masking exceed the potential benefits. This is not hard to understand. Masks are difficult for young children to wear, particularly for a full school day. It can be harder to hear and understand speech when people are wearing masks. It is isolating.
Outside of Illinois, 34 other US states have put the total well-being of children first by not requiring face coverings in schools. Despite the price our children have paid, Illinoisans have seen no evidence of reduced morbidity and mortality as a result of our relatively unique mask mandate. We are simply left with the bitter knowledge that our children spend most of their waking hours in masks because of the unfortunate circumstance of their state of residence.
We do not argue that no one is at risk from Covid-19. But the risk is manageable, and individual risk assessments should be left to individuals. After two years, Illinoisans know how to protect themselves, and parents know better than the state what is best for their children. We have done what was asked of us. And our children’s sacrifices have been among the greatest – two years and counting of their childhood – though they are the least vulnerable demographic. Sadly, our society has decided to accept more harm to children in exchange for less harm to adults. This must change.
It is time to shift our focus away from masks and onto the faces behind them. We urge you to do the right thing for children by making masks optional and leaving parental decision-making to parents.
 https://www.npr.org/2022/01/28/1075842341/growing-calls-to-take-masks-off-children-in-school , https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/q-a-children-and-masks-related-to-covid-19 https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/covid-19/questions-answers/questions-answers-school-transmissiond