BREAKING: More masks in Illinois schools? Will Pritzker push for distance learning?
BREAKING NEWS: An Illinois judge’s ruling banning mask mandates has schools across the state in turmoil over whether or not to continue enforcing Governor JB Pritzker’s mask rules and other covid restrictions.
On Friday, Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Raylene Grischow granted a temporary restraining order effectively banning mask requirements for students in many school districts across the state.
A parent group had filed in-state lawsuits against more than 140 school districts statewide, as well as Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Education last year, arguing that there was no due process in Illinois’ statewide mask ordinance. The case made its way through the courts and on Friday afternoon Judge Grischow issued a ruling stating that the defendants are temporarily barred from ordering school districts to require masks for students and teachers unless ‘a quarantine order be issued by a local health department, and prohibiting school districts, Governor Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Education from requiring unvaccinated persons who work in Illinois schools provide weekly negative COVID-19 test results or be vaccinated to enter a school building.
Additionally, the order states that school districts cannot deny admission to teachers and students deemed to be a “close contact” of a probable case of COVID-19 without due legal process.
However, according to the decision, collectively negotiated agreements such as those between unions and outside groups remain enforceable.
Following the ruling, Governor Pritzker slammed the decision calling it “misguided” and said schools may be forced to use remote learning again. He also said the state of Illinois would appeal the decision.
“The serious consequence of this misguided decision is that schools in these districts no longer have sufficient tools to keep students and staff safe as COVID-19 continues to threaten our communities – and this may require schools to s ‘move away,’ Pritzker said in a statement. . “This shows once again that the mask mandate and school exclusion protocols are essential tools in keeping schools open and everyone safe.”
Attorney General Kwame Raoul agreed with Pritzker.
“This decision sends the message that not all students have the same right to safely access schools and classrooms in Illinois, particularly if they have disabilities or other health conditions. “, Raoul said in a statement.
Different school districts across the state have responded in different ways, with some ignoring the decision and continuing to mask up, others removing masks and others talking about going remote learning.
In the Quad-Cities, the Moline and Rock Island school districts said they would remain masked. Rock Island Milan School District 41 released the following statement:
Dear Families of the Rock Island-Milan School District,
We would like to reach out to you and provide some clarification on a recent court case that arose on Friday that may be confusing.
Last fall, lawsuits were filed on behalf of several hundred parents and teachers across the state of Illinois challenging Governor Pritzker’s COVID warrants. Although a temporary restraining order was issued on Friday, February 4, it does not affect RIMSD #41 as our school district was not involved in the lawsuit.
According to our school district legal counsel, the mask mandate is still in effect for all of our school buildings, and our staff are still required to show proof of vaccination or test regularly if unvaccinated. The school district will also continue to trace close contacts and quarantine when a positive COVID case surfaces in a school building.
We understand that there have been so many changes in guidelines and mandates throughout the pandemic, however, please know that our goal and priority is to keep our students and staff safe, the gates of our schools open and children in the classroom.
Dr. Reginald Lawrence II
Superintendent, RIMSD #41
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Sean Leary is a writer, director, artist, musician, producer, and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since he started at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. A graduate with honors from the master’s program at the University of Southern California, he has written more than 50 books, including the best-selling books The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.