(The Center Square) – A parents group is not on board with the latest guidance on masks in schools from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The agency recommended Friday that schools fully reopen in the fall. It also recommended masks be worn by students who are not vaccinated. The CDC also recommended that schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms to reduce transmission risk.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health have adopted the guidelines.

“It focuses on what I have been focused on for more than a year now, which is everybody’s safety and health,” Pritzker said.

The guidance notes that many schools serve children younger than 12 who are not yet eligible for vaccination. The guidance emphasizes implementing layered prevention strategies – such as masking, distancing and testing – to protect people who are not fully vaccinated.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been authorized for use in kids ages 12 and up. The companies said they plan to request emergency use authorization in kids ages 5-11 in the fall.

The CDC also said schools may opt to make mask use universally required regardless of vaccination status.

Marsha McClary, with the group Illinois Parents Union, said kids rarely get COVID-19 and her group doesn’t think masks are needed in schools.

“I also feel very strongly that discriminating medically whether someone has been vaccinated or not vaccinated, whether they have antibodies or not is completely inappropriate,” McClary said.

She said mask use should be left up to the parents and their children.

The CDC guidance also noted that promoting vaccination can help facilitate that school districts safely return to in-person learning as well as extracurricular activities and sports.

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.