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CHICAGO (CBS) — Principals at five prominent Catholic schools on the city’s South Side issued a letter to Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady Monday, asking them to end the COVID-19 mask mandate.

The letter was sent on behalf of Marist, Brother Rice, Mount Carmel, Mouther McAuley, and St. Rita high schools.

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It said the school communities had done everything asked and more since the COVID-19 pandemic began nearly two years ago, and the improvement in COVID-19 metrics show it work. But the letter also said students’ mental health has suffered.

“The last two years have taken a huge toll on our students. Our guidance counselors report rising caseloads of students with worsening social and emotional problems. Data from across the country tell the tale of increasing depression, suicide and other serious emotional health problem students experience as COVID restrictions continue,” the letter read.

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The letter continued: “We have heard from our students, our families and our community. We see what prolonged virus-related restrictions are doing to their lives. Chicago’s young people are not immune. At the same time, we see state after state move away from mask mandates. It’s time our city did the same. We urge you to immediately rescind the City of Chicago’s indoor mask mandate, at least as it applies to schools and school events. Not only has the indoor mask mandate outlived its usefulness, but it’s also inflicting tangible damage to our young people that will take years to heal. The sooner we get to that work, the better all of us – including the young people who will lead our communities in the future – will be. The moral, educational and interpersonal imperative must now be on the emotional well being of our students going forward. Please, rescind the indoor mask mandate for schools, now.”

At an unrelated event Tuesday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot was asked about ending the mandate along with the state of Illinois. Gov. JB Pritzker said last week that he plans to end the statewide mandate on Feb. 28, but schools need more time.

“We are making tremendous progress in kind of climbing down the back slope of the Omicron surge, but I don’t want to put an artificial date on when this is going to happen,” the mayor said.

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There was also another protest over the mask mandate Monday in Wilmette.

Source: CBS Chicago

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