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Illinois day cares weigh whether to require masks after mandate lifted

ABC 7 Chicago 3/2/2022 WLS
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With the lifting of Illinois' mask mandate, it is now up to individual day care facilities to decide whether or not masks are required.

"They're unvaccinated, we have got to keep them safe," said Daphne Williams, at Smarty Pants Early Learning Center in Bronzeville.

Williams said the kids and staff will continue wearing masks despite the state mandate being lifted.

"It would break my heart if I had one of these kids in one of these children's hospital units because of a decision I made too quickly," Williams said.

RELATED | Illinois, Chicago lift face mask mandates; City also lifts vaccine proof requirement

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services notified daycare providers that Gov. JB Pritkzer lifted the state's indoor masking requirements, including the use of face coverings in day care settings.

"We know our younger people have fared better with this disease compared to some other disease," IDPH director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. "They've done better with this than the flu or RSV."

Some daycare providers informed parents late Monday about changes to their mask policy. While some parents may welcome relief from masks for their young children, others do not.

Roxanne Greenberg said her grandson's daycare is going mask optional.

"Why would they make that decision?" she said. "It just seems like such an easy decision to keep masks on until we can get to the point that these kids can get vaccinated."

Laurance Armour Day School of Rush University director Maria Walker said their daycare center hasn't had to close during the pandemic. The school's director says most of their students are under 5 and can't be vaccinated. They will continue wearing masks.

"The important thing is that we have to look at what's best for our families, our children and our staff here," Walker said. "And right now, it's the mask."

Walker credits masks and other COVID protocols for limiting other typical childhood diseases during the pandemic. She said keeping these kids healthy allows their parents to work - and many of them work in healthcare.

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