BELVIDERE, Ill. (WTVO) — The Belvidere School District has said that students who do not comply with Illinois’ mask mandate this fall could be suspended, and that risk has some parents considering homeschooling their children.
“In order to enforce the mask mandate, we have to be able to say that students won’t be in the building unless they’re willing to wear a mask,” said Belvidere Superintendent Dr. Daniel Woestman. “If they refuse to wear the mask we are offering them, we will ask their parents to come pick them up, and that will be an excused absence for the day.”
Woestman says returning to school without a mask has larger consequences.
“If they return to school and continue not to wear a mask, then we’ll have to look at some sort of suspension. That could be anywhere [from] between one to three days,” he said.
The new rules may be pushing some families away from classrooms all together.
Kimberly Robertson homeschools her children, and started the Belvidere Homeschool Facebook group.
She said she’s noticed an increase in interest to her group following the school’s announcement.
“Now, as of recently, in the last day or two, the specific Belvidere Area Homeschool page has definitely shown a huge influx of people wanting to join,” she said.
Robertson says more and more parents are investigating the possibility of homeschooling, since many of them got a taste of it during the remote learning phase of last year.
“They just want more information, because they’re not sure if they want their child to go through the mandates that are coming up right now,” she said.
Woestmans says complaints about wearing masks in classrooms aren’t coming from the students, but their parents.
“To be honest, I think this is more of a parent concern than a student concern,” he said. “When I talk to students, they’re not really worried about masks. They’d much rather be in school.”
Woestman says students will be given multiple opportunities to comply with the rules before a suspension.
For those interested in homeschooling, the Belvidere Area Homeschool Facebook group has a monthly question and answer session.