Mask Mandate Returns to Madison County

Students+walk+through+the+halls+on+Sept.+8%2C+2021.+In+accordance+with+district+guidelines%2C+students+are+allowed+to+take+mask+breaks+during+passing+period.

photo by Chase Pyle

Students walk through the halls on Sept. 8, 2021. In accordance with district guidelines, students are allowed to take mask breaks during passing period.

Lindsey Lankford, Staff Writer

August turned to September and Illinois faced yet another change to COVID-19 safety guidelines. 

As of Aug. 30, masks are once again mandatory in public places, and the emergence of the Delta variant is partly to blame.

The Delta variant is a more infectious version of the COVID-19 virus. According to the CDC, even vaccinated individuals are at a greater risk for contracting COVID because of the newer strand. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a press release on Aug. 4 that the younger population is being infected by the Delta variant at a higher rate than the original COVID virus. 

In fact, 12%of all COVID-related hospitalizations in June were of people under the age of 29.

Some K-12 schools have had a mask mandate in place to prevent the spread of COVID and, now, the Delta variant.

In District 7 schools, masks have been mandatory since the return to in-person school on Aug. 11, despite the lack of a mask mandate in other public areas. 

According to health teacher Missy Sanders, many students have taken the mask mandate in stride.

”I have not had any issues here at school as far as the mask mandate,” Mrs. Sanders said.

Mrs. Sanders also said that although there are a few students who are caught with their mask below their nose, they wear it properly when corrected.

As for the Edwardsville and Glen Carbon area as a whole, Mrs. Sanders said it seemed that after an adjustment period of a few days, most people were abiding by the new mask mandate in public.

But this level of obedience to the mask mandate is not a reality for other cities in Illinois. 

“I was in a smaller town, I’m not going to say which one, just this past weekend and there were very few compliances,” Mrs. Sanders said. 

As of Sept. 9, the transmission rate of COVID is high in communities in Madison County. According to the CDC “Everyone should wear a mask in public settings.”

St. Clair, Bond, Macoupin and Jersey counties, all surrounding Madison County, Illinois, are also listed as high community-transmission areas. Across the river, St. Louis and St. Charles counties, neither of which require masks, are also considered high community-transmission areas.

“Given our current trajectory in hospitalizations and ICU usage,” Pritzker said in the Aug. 4 press release, “we have a limited amount of time right now to stave off the highest peaks of this surge going into the fall.”