Dear Manhattan 114 Families:
Good afternoon. As I shared in my last communication, on August 4, 2021, the Governor issued Executive Order 85. While the Manhattan School District developed its own 2021-2022 Return to School Plan in cooperation with the other Lincoln-Way Area Schools, Manhattan School District 114 will comply with Executive Order 85 until such time the mandate expires or is lifted. This mandate removes local control. Administration cannot recommend that our school board approve violating a state mandate. There could be consequences for districts that choose to violate the mandate. School attorneys and our liability insurance carrier have advised of the risk of lawsuits, loss of insurance, and additional liability. At the state level, there is the possibility of reduction of state funding and the loss of state recognition. Loss of state recognition would immediately suspend participation in all IESA sports and activities. Once the mandate is no longer in effect, the district will move forward with the remaining provisions of the 2021-2022 Return to School Plan.
Executive Order 2021-18 (Executive Order 85) requires that all teachers, students, staff, and visitors to P-12 schools who are two years of age or older must wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Students and visitors must wear a mask indoors at all District 114 facilities, regardless of vaccination status. All athletes, participants and spectators must wear masks at indoor events. All students must wear a mask at all times on school bus transportation. Any student who has a medical contraindication (e.g. difficulty breathing) that prevents him or her from wearing a mask must submit a medical certification, MSD114 Mask Exemption Form, from the student's health care provider to the District Office, in order to be exempt from the mask requirement in the 2021-2022 school year due to medical or disability reasons.
- For students without masks: Any student without a medical exemption on file will not be allowed to attend classes or events. A student will not be forced to wear a mask in opposition to their parent's directive. The school will require the student to remain in a safe and supervised area within the school office (with social distancing) until a parent is contacted and reliable transportation home can be arranged. This is not a disciplinary removal from school and will be an unexcused absence due to the failing to follow the rules requiring the wearing of a face mask while Executive Order 85 is in effect.
- For school visitors without masks: These individuals will not be allowed to enter the building.
The 2021-22 Return to School Plan has been updated and included. It has also been posted to the district website. We are looking forward to a return to school with full days of instruction, five days per week. Students will have the choice to not wear masks outdoors and have the use of all playground equipment and physical education equipment, as we make every effort to provide a normal school environment to the best of our ability. If you feel that the school environment is not conducive or safe for your child(ren) to attend in person, we do have a remote learning option available. While the ISBE guidelines or requirements are quite restrictive to qualify for remote learning, as a district, we will work with our families to provide the best possible environment and education for their child(ren) to learn, as we have always strived to do.
Rusty Ragon, Superintendent