Schools ‘cautiously optimistic’ about the new year, but COVID-19 worries linger. ‘Don’t forget about people with extreme circumstances.’

For the first time since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois students will soon begin a new school year in which hotly contested virus-mitigation mandates, including masking, have become relegated to the history books — at least for now.

“I’m cautiously optimistic, because when students returned last fall, we were hopeful that the 2021-2022 school year would be more ‘normal,’ and it turned out not to be,” said Terri Bresnahan, superintendent of Elk Grove Village-based Community Consolidated School District 59.

“I’m just more realistic now, and as we are making this latest transition, we need to ask ourselves, ‘How do we live with it?’ We just all need do our best, and do what we know works and is effective so we can keep our schools open for in-person learning,” Bresnahan said.