As August approaches, questions about school-year restrictions remain


Jack Borchers

A one way sticker rests on the floor outside the atrium staircase on the 3rd floor of the academic wing. . Friday, July 2, 2021.

Jack Borchers, Contributing Reporter


As America has been getting vaccinated and back to normal, with states lifting restrictions, one large question remains… What are schools going to look like come August?

“There’s a lot of conversation right now about what schools are going to look like in the fall,” Drew McGuire, assistant principal for activities, said. “We are still waiting for guidance,” 

Although the State of Illinois still currently requires masks in schools, that may change soon as other states such as New Jersey have allowed school districts to make their own decisions on if masks are required.

“At the state level, I’ve heard things about masks [being] optional, masks being optional for  vaccinated, versus requiring masks for unvaccinated, so I don’t really know,” McGuire said.

Some are optimistic but think that dropping the mask mandates will likely take a longer time than coming back in the fall.

“The good news is that people are getting vaccinated more and more, and it’s opening up to younger students,” Mr. Josh Green, APHUG and APUSH teacher, said. “So whoever wants them seems to be able to get them, and the more that happens the more likely optional masking [possibly happens] second semester,” 

 Regardless of the mask status come August, teachers and students are excited about the potential to be back to in person classes full time, without having to separate time between their classes and Zoom.

“It’s just so much better,” Green said. “It just gives us so much more energy to be in a room with other human people, looking at screens. Even with cameras on, you don’t get that feel of human connection that comes from actual people in the classroom sitting at desks and nodding their heads. School online was never meant to be- at least at the high school level in this manner. 

Being in person means freedom from and the constant challenges of learning while two classes, one in person and one online, are being taught at the same time. 

“It was annoying with the Zoom [as] certain teachers would force you to join the Zoom instead of having a projector going,” junior Josh Melvin said.

It was an odd experience for all involved, especially to those on the other side of your black screen.

“A lot of us teachers felt like it was our first year teaching experience again because you feel like a new teacher,”” Green said. “That’s how hard it was.”

Although there is still work ahead, the administration is ready to welcome students back come August.

“I am confident that we are going to have a normal start to the school year, that we will all be in session, [and] that we will have a normal eight-period day from the very beginning of school,” McGuire said. “Whether we come back with masks on or not — I don’t know what that will be like.” 

Although the final decision of how masks will be implemented rests on the Illinois Department of Public Health, others would rather see the decision about masks be implemented based on York’s vaccination rates.

“If the vaccination rates are above the CDC standards for herd immunity, [currently 70-85%] then I would be comfortable with [the mask requirement] being dropped, personally I wouldn’t care as I am fully vaccinated,” Melvin said.

Even as the excitement of having a mask free year is building, Covid still hangs in the balance.

“It’s always nicer to teach without the mask, but only if it is safe to do so,” Green said. 

Although what masking might look like is still up in the air, one thing certainly isn’t. In what might possibly be the biggest change from the past year, York will have student events this year, a dramatic shift from the past 16 months.

“[We are] hoping to be able to have 3 stage shows, to be able to have some sort of homecoming dance, [and] hoping Fine Arts Week will all be as usual. Those are [the big ones],” said McGuire.

McGuire declined to release an event calendar at this time but insisted one is going to be released soon.

Although there is no date announced yet for homecoming, a source close to the matter indicated that it would take place on September 25, with the dance on the 26.

The prospect of which is getting both students and teachers excited 

“Students would love it,” Melvin said. “That’s probably the best thing that has happened in the past 18 months,” 

“I always love the homecoming game, being able to have the students in the stands, and they get so loud and so excited for the games and things like that,” Green said. “It will be great to see that sprout up again and of course the dance, and all of the dances, prom especially is a big one, as that is such a crucial moment for young people, to experience and have that experience,”

“If all that can come back safely, that’s the dream right there,” Green said.