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Lake County School Districts Say They Will Obey Mask Mandate Announced By Gov. Pritzker, But Some Express Concerns

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (CBS) -- Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker on Wednesday announced a new statewide mask mandate for all Illinois public and private schools.

Some suburban school districts were in the process of deciding whether to require masks, until the decision was made for them with Pritzker's announcement.

CBS 2's Steven Graves went to north suburban Lake County on Wednesday to see if some districts there would obey a mandate, when there was a gray area before.

Supt. Mike Lubelfeld of North Shore School District 112, who oversees elementary and middle schools in Highland Park, said the district is prepared to go by the rule.

About two weeks ago, Lubelfeld intended for only unvaccinated students to wear mask, which was in line with guidelines with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the time.

Then last week - amid the Delta variant spreading - a federal and state recommendation called for masks for everyone.

North Shore District 112 joins the many other districts that sent us their plans to follow the mandate. Some already had universal masking and other safety steps in place.

"We have shield testing that we're adding," said Lori Casey, superintendent of Woodland School District 50, headed in Gurnee. "We have air ventilation things that we've been working on."

But while some administrators are embracing the change, others question masking up. Lake Forest schools Supt. Matthew L. Montgomery on Wednesday vowed to follow the new rule but would "value greater flexibility if and when circumstances improve."

"We had our kids telling us how uncomfortable they were and had trouble breathing and they were adjusting them," said Peter Demos.

For weeks, we have followed Demos, a dad and a school mask opposer. Demos is still adamant now that masks should be a choice for *his kids in Lake Zurich.

"I understand there's a concern," he said.

But Demos does not think his 9- and 11-year-old are at major risk even without the vaccine.

Back in the North Shore district, there's a compromise. With no apparent rule on masking outdoors, some tents will serve as mask-less learning spaces - weather permitting.

"My aim is to calm the emotions," Lubelfeld said. "Stay focused on the reading, writing, and arithmetic and simply address and deal with this public health crisis to the best of our ability."

Every school district Graves spoke to is keeping in-person learning five days a week. Gov. Pritzker said he has no plans to change that.

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