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Local school district, parents react following mask mandate in Illinois

United Township School District started off its first day with the option of students wearing masks and then that all changed right before school let out.

EAST MOLINE, Ill. — The Illinois mask mandate in schools brought a drastic change for one local school district that welcomed students back to class on Wednesday, August 4.

United Township School District started off its first day with the option of students wearing masks and then that all changed right before school let out.

"I didn't really like last year, but I'm kind of getting used to it," one student said. 

"It's better to be safe than sorry," another student said.

Superintendent Jay Morrow said the return of requiring masks in school will help keep students in the classroom instead of at home.

"Our primary focus is keeping kids in school," Morrow said. "It increases the changes of us having more students and employees here on a regular basis."

RELATED: Masks required for all staff, students in Illinois schools, regardless of vaccine status

The district used a hybrid format to fight the spread of COVID-19 during the 2020-21 school year. It kicked off its current year in-person full-time, hoping vaccinations would keep any infections down.

"It would have created a tremendous amount of burden on contact tracers," Morrow said.

Morrow said the mask mandate takes away any confusion. 

"Ease that burden for people who are worried, that somebody may be unvaccinated and not wearing a mask," Morrow said.

Parents throughout the area said they have mixed feelings on the policy.

"I hate the fact that we are being told we have to wear masks again," one parent said.

That same resident has a daughter who's about to start kindergarten and she wonders how younger students will be expected to follow the order.

"I don't really see her keeping the mask on the entire time," the parent said. 

"I think everybody should wear them, as long as this stuff is around," another parent said.   

United Township School District has around 1,800 students and 220 employees.

"It really makes our life easier," Morrow said.