BREAKING: No More Masks In Illinois Schools? Will Pritzker Push For Remote Learning?
BREAKING NEWS: An Illinois judge’s ruling prohibiting mask mandates has got schools statewide in a tizzy over whether or not to continue to enforce Gov. JB Pritzker’s mask rules and other covid restrictions.
On Friday, Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Raylene Grischow granted a temporary restraining order effectively prohibiting mask requirements for students in numerous school districts across the state.
A group of parents had filed lawsuits downstate against more than 140 school districts statewide, as well as Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Education last year, arguing there was no due process in Illinois’ statewide mask order. The case has been making its way through the courts and on Friday afternoon, Judge Grischow issued a ruling stating defendants are temporarily restrained from ordering school districts to require masks for students and teachers unless a quarantine order is issued by a local health department, and barring school districts, Gov. Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Education from requiring unvaccinated individuals who work in Illinois schools to provide weekly negative results of a COVID-19 test or be vaccinated to enter a school building.
In addition, the order states that school districts can’t refuse admittance to teachers and students deemed a “close contact” of a probable COVID-19 case without due process of law.
However, also according to the ruling, collectively-bargained agreements such as those between unions and outside groups remain enforceable.
In the wake of the decision, Gov. Pritzker slammed the ruling calling it “misguided” and said schools may be forced to go to remote learning again. He also said the state of Illinois will appeal the decision.
“The grave consequence of this misguided decision is that schools in these districts no longer have sufficient tools to keep students and staff safe while COVID-19 continues to threaten our communities — and this may force schools to go remote,” Pritzker said in a statement. “This shows yet again that the mask mandate and school exclusion protocols are essential tools to keep schools open and everyone safe.”
Attorney General Kwame Raoul agreed with Pritzker.
“This decision sends the message that all students do not have the same right to safely access schools and classrooms in Illinois, particularly if they have disabilities or other health concerns,” Raoul said in a statement.
Different school districts around the state have reacted in different ways, with some ignoring the ruling and continuing to mask up, others taking away the masks, and others talking about going to remote learning.
In the Quad-Cities, both Moline and Rock Island school districts said they will remain masked. Rock Island Milan School District 41 issued the following statement:
Dear Rock Island-Milan School District Families,
We want to reach out to you and provide clarity about a recent court case outcome that occurred on Friday that may cause some confusion.
Last fall, lawsuits were filed on behalf of several hundred parents and teachers from around the State of Illinois to challenge Governor Pritzker’s COVID mandates. Even though 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.
Per 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 regularly test if not vaccinated. 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 to guidelines and mandates throughout the pandemic, however, please know that our bottom line and priority is to keep our students and staff safe, our school doors open, and children in the classroom.
Dr. Reginald Lawrence II
Superintendent, RIMSD #41
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