District 99 calls emergency Board of Education meeting


Screen capture taken from D99 BOE livestream

District 99 Board of Education engages in back and fourth discussion regarding mask policies

Lauren Pierret, News Editor

The District 99 Board of Education held an emergency meeting on February 14  to discuss the district’s future with mask-wearing. The meeting was called due to the controversy surrounding Judge Raylene Grischow’s ruling on masks in schools. 


Superintendent Dr. Hank Thiele started the meeting off with a statement about his own opinions on masking and his expectations of the District 99 students, parents and staff. 


“Our students will never heal from the pandemic until the adults step up and show some resilience in navigating the world by productively working through both the decisions we agree with and those we do not agree with,” Thiele said.


After Thiele’s opening statement, the board and its audience members listened to a presentation on the COVID-19 statistics throughout the past year. Following the presentation and a short board discussion, 17 community members, parents and students shared their opinions with the board. Six students from both DGS and DGN who were opposing masks presented their ideas to the board. 


“I believe it is time to start preparing people to face their fear about the removal of masks and choose what best fits them each day. Within many schools, as you know, they are granting students the choice to make them the most comfortable and confident inside their learning environment. I think that as a district, we should follow their lead,” junior Lilly Roche said. 


After hearing passionate and tearful comments from students and parents, the board began a discussion on what action should be taken. Based on the comments shared, board members went back and forth on the subject. 


“These are difficult times. If we make the wrong choice, there could be devastating consequences for those choices,” board member Terry Pavesich said  “I would love to go without a mask. It’s uncomfortable, we all know that, but to keep our students, teachers, staff, and community safe, I think keeping them on is the right way to do that until our numbers go down.”


After a nearly three-hour meeting, the board ruled on a “masks requested but no longer required” policy that will be implemented in D99 schools on Feb. 28. However, until then, students are still expected to wear masks properly at school. 


To further enforce this policy, an email sent to students from the Office of the Superintendent stated that until Feb. 28, students who choose not wear their mask will need to continue their learning asynchronously from home due to the school not having “the capacity to offer an alternate learning setting for those [students] who refuse to wear a mask.”


While the school board’s decision may be controversial within the community, it is clear what the administration expects of DGN students and their families. As always, no matter what students choose to do at school, they are still asked to be respectful of their classmates and peers.