QUINCY — Quincy Public Schools will follow the latest masking guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under a plan to start the 2021-22 year.
Masks are not required outdoors. Masks are not required in most indoor settings for vaccinated individuals. Masks are highly recommended for indoor settings for unvaccinated individuals.
“We’re going to ask families to take a very serious look at this,” Superintendent Roy Webb said. “For the time being, we are recommending masks. We are not requiring masks.”
Masks will be required on school buses, based on CDC guidance, and in large gatherings or assemblies.
The back-to-school plan — expected to be voted on Wednesday night by the School Board — calls for easing some restrictions tied to COVID-19, maintaining others and being ready to change based on community conditions.
“We can always become less restrictive as conditions change. We will also prepare to be more restrictive if the virus spreads more in the Quincy and Adams County area,” Webb said in a draft of the plan sent to staff members. “In Quincy, we will look out for the safety of our students.”
The majority of QPS students will be unvaccinated with a vaccine not available for children under 12 and likely some 30% of students ages 12 and up vaccinated based on countywide numbers.
“Even at our high school and junior high, not all the kids are going to walk in the door being vaccinated,” Webb said. “So for those that are unvaccinated, it’s strongly recommended that they wear a mask.”
Webb sees the divisions in the community over masking in the messages he gets through social media, email and phone.
“About two or three weeks ago, it was 100% the make masks optional people,” he said. “About a week ago, a week and a half ago, it started to turn a little bit . The messages now are more in line with you should make masks required for preK-12, so I think our community is pretty split on what should be done.”
What QPS does plays an important role in the community’s response to the pandemic, and a priority for Webb is ensuring the district is not a cause of community outbreak or concern.
“Last year we felt being in school and in person was actually helping. Our nurses were identifying people so early that we were able to have families quarantined and eliminate the spread. If we wouldn’t have been in person, our nurses wouldn’t have been identifying those people as early,” he said. “That’s the kind of community partner we want to be.”
The plan calls for students and staff with COVID symptoms as defined by the CDC to stay home. Unvaccinated students will be placed in quarantine if they are in close contact to a positive COVID person, and vaccinated people will only quarantine if they show symptoms.
“It’s very similar to the rest of Adams County schools and most of Illinois,” Webb said. “There are some districts that are a little more restrictive, but most districts have something very similar to our plan.”
Whether it’s the right plan will be decided through the school year.
“I haven’t felt 100% sure about very few COVID decisions in 18 months,” Webb said. “We just kind of do the best we can, try to figure out what’s best for kids and what’s best for Quincy Public Schools and then make decisions.”
2021-22 Plan Highlights
• In-person learning for all student attendance days in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.
• Social distancing, with three feet as the goal, in classrooms and hallways.
• Students and staff with COVID symptoms stay home.
• Unvaccinated students will be placed in quarantine if they are in close contact to a positive COVID person. Vaccinated people will quarantine if they show symptoms.
• Locker use at the junior high resumes.
• Lunch will be served in school cafeterias, with six lunch periods at QHS. Breakfast for K-8 students will be eaten in classrooms; high school students will eat breakfast in the cafeteria.
• Busing fully resumes, with capacity still listed at 50 passengers and masks required.
• Most clubs, athletic events and music events return to a traditional schedule.
• Volunteers, presenters, parents and special guests will be welcome in Quincy Public Schools.
• Field trips will be used on a limited basis.
• Special care continues with cleaning all student facilities.