Masks at school: What should Amboy students expect when returning to classes this fall?

Posted 7/26/21

AMBOY – With school starting in less than a month, will masks be required in school buildings and how will that decision be made?

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Masks at school: What should Amboy students expect when returning to classes this fall?


AMBOY – With school starting in less than a month, will masks be required in school buildings and how will that decision be made? 

Those questions were posed by Amboy parent Brett Kreiser during the July 15 Amboy School Board meeting. Kreiser, who spoke via Zoom, said he was most interested to know how the decision was being made and was less concerned about what the final decision would be.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, local schools have paid close attention to the spread of the virus within the community and kept the safety of students and staff foremost in mind when making decisions. Amboy Superintendent Joshua Nichols explained that the school district considers guidance from various sources including the CDC, the Illinois Department of Public Health and Illinois State Board of Education as well as the Lee County Health Department. In addition, Nichols said he has spoken with the school district’s attorney and their insurance provider to get input regarding safety measures for the coming school year. 

“Based on the current CDC recommendations, fully vaccinated people do not have to wear masks or quarantine after being exposed,” Nichols said. “Unvaccinated people should still wear masks.”

One exception to the current mask rule is on busses. When riding a bus, everyone is still required to wear a mask, Nichols noted. Even though Illinois has already adopted the CDC standards, he said schools are waiting to see exactly what that means and he expects to have more information in the coming weeks. 

Nichols also reminded everyone that even once decisions are made, the safety protocol guidelines are subject to change at any time. Currently, there is a nationwide rise in COVID cases, which could affect the decisions made by some school districts based on the number of cases in their local communities. “Fortunately, in Amboy our case count is low right now,” he said. “Also, our school buildings can manage the recommended three feet of distance but other school districts may not have the space to do that.” 

Nichols encouraged anyone with questions or concerns to contact him. 


• Nichols reported that work is continuing to move forward on the building project. He noted that they have made plans if there are any additional delays in the shipment of items for the new school. “A lot of things are here and are still being installed, but we have plans if certain items do not arrive in time for the start of school,” he said. 

Nichols thanked AHS Principal Janet Crownhart for bringing in high school students to help move items from the old junior high to the new building and also move unneeded items out of the high school for disposal, which counted as community service hours for the students. 

• Board member Katie Pratt reported that Margaret Vaessen, Illinois FFA state reporter, recently presented a plaque in appreciation for the support she received during her years at AHS. “As an FFA state officer, she thanked us for helping her and for providing a strong FFA program that allowed her to progress,” Pratt said. “She is very grateful for that.”

• The board approved Jendy Solutions for installation of the Verkada surveillance camera and license at the new junior high. This will be the final step in having all three Amboy schools on one system, which will be accessible to local law enforcement.  

• The board approved S-Net Communications to provide a Cloud phone system, which Nichols said will provide savings for the district and is a better system than the current one. 


Following closed session, the board accepted the resignations of Kelsi Eyster as English and Language Arts teacher at Amboy Junior High School and of Eduardo Escatel as Spanish teacher at Amboy High School.

They hired Elizabeth Sunday as a first grade teacher at Central School for the 2021-22 school year; Sarah Herkert as 240-day custodian at Amboy Junior High, effective Aug. 1; and extra-curricular positions for the 2021-22 school year.

The next regular board meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 19 at Central School. All meetings are open to the public.