2 York Students Differ On Mask Policies

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ELMHURST, IL — Hallie Weinshenker and Nate Stettin are students at York High School. At Tuesday’s school board meeting, they expressed different views on the school district’s new mask optional policy.

Weinshenker, a senior, said she understood the Elmhurst School District 205’s decision to go mask optional Monday.

A few days earlier, a downstate judge issued an order suspending the governor’s mask mandate in nearly 150 districts, including Elmhurst, which are defendants in litigation.

Find out what’s happening in Elmhurst with free, real-time updates from Patch.

Weinshenker said she was immunocompromised and that contracting the coronavirus would be “very dangerous” for her. She said she was not asking the district to reimpose the mask requirement, but to provide a version of at-home learning for those who no longer feel safe in school.

Weinshenker said she was speaking for herself and a friend.

Find out what’s happening in Elmhurst with free, real-time updates from Patch.

“Our bodies are not primed to fight this disease, and by giving students the option to remove masks, we have been put at risk,” she said. “As I have said, we are not fighting the district’s decision or criticizing students who do not choose to wear masks. We are at this meeting to be heard. We acknowledge these students have a right not to wear masks, but we are also justified in our desire to get an education in a learning environment that is comfortable to us.”

Last year, Stettin, the other student, went to Timothy Christian Schools, a private institution in Elmhurst. He said he did so because remote learning in District 205 did not work for him.

Stettin said he returned because in-person learning was back. But he described mask enforcement as rigid.

“If I had my mask below my nose, if I had it below my chin, teachers would scream, yell. I would go to the dean’s office. We would have major complications with that. I have even been threatened with more extreme measures,” Stettin said.

He thanked the district for going mask optional, but said the district still had a problem to resolve.

“This week, a student in a class was not wearing a mask. All the other students were,” Stettin said. “The teacher decided to open all the windows in the classroom. All the students froze because one student was not wearing a mask.”

He said the saddest part was that masks were the district’s focus while officials ignored other violations. He said students missing class were smoking marijuana in restrooms.

The school board did not respond to the students or the other speakers during public comment, as is its practice.

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