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New School Year in Macomb Will Include Mask Requirement

Rich Egger

The Macomb School District will hold in-person classes when the new school year begins in mid-August. But to do that during the ongoing pandemic, the district is implementing a number of precautionary measures.

“I think it’s a significant way for us to provide an environment where kids can be more stable in their day-to-day school life and parents can be more assured of a stable calendar for their work schedules,” said Superintendent Patrick Twomey, adding online instruction does not measure up to face-to-face learning, despite educators’ best efforts.

You can read the plan here


Superintendent Twomey on Wednesday issued this statement about the plan:

“I would like to take this opportunity to clarify the portion of the plan concerning outdoor masking.  I want to ensure you, students will not typically need to mask up when outdoors.  That statement was intended to address times when there could be an activity of prolonged contact.  We will be taking mask breaks while outside using the guidelines of social distancing while doing so.”

The superintendent said the plan already has its detractors. But he said he has 2,100 children to protect. He feels the plan provides the highest level of protection while avoiding the need for quarantines.

“When you look at all of the information from the CDC and the Illinois Department of Public Health, there is a combination of three things that prevent any quarantine within a school system,” Twomey said:

  • Universal masking
  • Maintain social distancing of at least three feet
  • Test all unvaccinated people on a weekly basis

“I know not all parents agree with that but it’s the way that we’re going to start,” he said of the plan. “I would like to see the end of masks as much as anybody (because) that means we’re nearing the end of COVID-19.”
Dr. Twomey emphasized that like everything else during the pandemic, the plan is subject to change in the coming weeks or months.

The superintendent said some students caught the virus last school year and became sick enough to require hospitalization.

And he said at one point last spring, the district required more than 200 students to quarantine because they had come in close contact with six or seven others who tested positive for COVID-19. He wants avoid a similar situation in the coming year.

Twomey said the federal government has given schools “a tremendous amount of money” to improve ventilation systems, which could also help prevent spread of the virus.

He said the Macomb district is in the process of giving the final drawings to a contractor to upgrade HVAC systems in all of its buildings. He also said an improved HVAC system will be installed in the middle school being built just south of the current junior-senior high school.  

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.