I was at the protest. I did not hear anything racist. Why does Oak Park turn everything racist? [D200 board discusses activities ban and protest rally, News, Dec. 15]

I don’t agree with harassment and racism toward the health director or anybody. Many health department personnel and directors have quit throughout the U.S. during the pandemic for stress and harassment. They have been all genders/races.

I am a parent of two high school students. My son plays on the hockey team, and I am a board member of the hockey club. My duties with the hockey club include COVID-19 issues and liaison with the Park District of Oak Park. In this role I have had interaction with Public Health Director Theresa Chapple-McGruder. I am sorry to say she does not use science or risk assessment. She did not use science or risk assessment when mandating masks at the Farmers Market this past summer! 

All authorities, including the CDC, states that masks are not required outdoors. Why is she mandating masks outdoors? Can you tell me the science or risk assessment she used for masks outdoors? If you look at the vaccination rates in Oak Park with 71% fully vaccinated and 83% with one dose, that further reduces risk outdoors with no masks. 

Earlier this year we were discussing spectator limits at Ridgeland Common for the OPRF High School hockey games. Her guidance to the park district was to limit spectators. I do not exactly know what was said to the park district. I know of no other arenas/stadiums with capacity limits at present in Illinois or nationally. Some arenas/stadiums are requiring proof of vaccination. 

I asked the park district what is the science/risk assessment behind limiting spectators? Masks are required. Reduces risk greatly. High school students 81% vaccinated? What does limiting spectators do to reduce risk with masks and vaccinations? I was told Dr. Chapple does not take into consideration the vaccination rates. How is she doing risk assessment then?

The issue with the extracurricular shutdown is what was the risk assessment and what is science saying about the risk? Shut down extracurricular activities at the high school because of 17 cases or is it 30? Not clear from the school. How many of the positives are from extracurricular activities? Will shutting down extracurricular activities really stop the spread? 

You assume you would get some uptick due to the Thanksgiving holiday. I would think there is greater risk of spread in the school with students indoors for 7-8 hours than 2-3 hours of extracurricular activities. Please show her risk assessment calculations/thought process. 

The frustration for the parents is there was not a very clear explanation of the science/risk assessment used and how was that going to control spread versus in school for 7-8 hours? 

From all of the above, it appears there is no science/risk assessment being done on the decisions made. It appears the goal is zero risk. COVID-19 is not going away and zero risk is not what residents want. We need to know risk and make some choices. The CDC and the Illinois Dept. of Public Health have stated the shutdowns have done lots of damage to children’s learning and mental health. This did not appear to being taken into consideration by shutting down extracurriculars.

I believe Dr. Chapple needs to be very transparent on why she is recommending/mandating something, and needs to explain the risk assessment/science behind it. I believe the Oak Park community will support Dr. Chapple as long as she communicates why and the risk assessment/science makes sense. 

Rob Roy, an Oak Park resident, has a master’s degree in Public Health (1998) from the UIC School of Public Health.

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