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CHICAGO (CBS) — Masking in schools continues to be a polarizing issue, and in Lombard, some parents fear a change in policy could create a loophole that threatens the health of their children.

CBS 2’s Marie Saavedra spoke to a group of parents who are concerned about the upcoming exemption.

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The mask exemption stems from a decision by Lutheran school management earlier this month. At the height of the current wave of the pandemic, they fear that some are using the exemptions with bad intentions.

“I feel like, especially in a school setting, we should want to keep our kids safe.”

This group of five people asked that their identities be withheld due to the highly controversial subject. Masking, and the changes to come at the school where the children of their families attend.

“Children are ashamed, ashamed if they wear a mask. And it happened.

They say their students attend St. John’s Lutheran School in Lombard, which followed the school’s masking mandate from the governor. But in a Jan. 2 email from the senior pastor, the school said it will “honor medical and religious exemptions” beginning Jan. 24.

“I know when I emailed and asked what constituted a religious exemption, the response I got was fine, basically if the parent thinks that’s what they want to do.”

This group fears that some members of the community will take advantage of this change.

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“It’s more simply because a parent feels they don’t want their child to wear a mask anymore. And I don’t think that’s fair!

They say they asked for a detailed breakdown of how decisions on exemptions will be made, but did not receive it.

“There’s no one who’s going to sign off and say, ‘That sounds good.’ It will be the church.

We sought clarification from the school principal and senior pastor and received a statement from a St. John’s attorney saying, “Religious or medical exemptions to the mask mandate are available under the Disability and the right of conscience.” He did not address the criteria or the number of students who applied for the exemptions, but said St. John’s wants to be a unified community.

For these parents, it is impossible without more communication.

“We would like if we felt like we were at a point where we could throw the masks out the door and so on, and we’re just not there yet.”

In this statement, the school’s advocates encourage the community to have empathy for all perspectives, in accordance with biblical standards.

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The exemptions will come into effect on January 24.


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