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Illinois Mask Mandate Gone Monday, But How Long Will They Be In Schools?

February 24th, 2022 Share:  

Illinois covid numbers for cases, infection rates, deaths and hospitalizations hit their lowest numbers in six months this week, as the statewide mask mandate is set to end Feb. 28, prompting parents and students to question why the statewide mask restriction for schools is not also being lifted.

On Monday, the state of Illinois, Cook County and Chicago will lift mask mandates and, for the county and city, vaccine mandates, however, Chicago Public Schools says that it will keep its requirements in place for at least the time-being, “to preserve in-person teaching and keep students and educators safe,” the CPS said in a statement.

“We have made great progress in recent weeks against this virus, and we do not want to jeopardize that progress by moving too quickly,” a spokesperson said. “We look forward to the day when we can be mask-optional at CPS, but we still need to get more students vaccinated across our district, and we still need to work with our public health and labor partners on the best way to preserve a safe in-person learning environment for all.”

Illinois Mask Mandate Gone Monday, But How Long Will They Be In Schools?

Rock Island District 41 students wearing masks during a recent school activity.

Still, this happens as rates have hit their lowest in six months. Thursday, 1,549 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours. That number marked the fourth day in a row of fewer than 2,000 new cases, which hasn’t been seen since July. The state is now averaging 2,184 new cases per day, its lowest daily average since late October.

According to the latest data available from the Illinois Department of Public Health, there are currently 1,096 patients in Illinois hospitals that have tested positive for COVID-19. A total of 235 patients are currently in intensive care unit beds, officials said.

Illinois’ COVID test positivity rate is now down to 2%, while the positivity rate on individuals tested has now fallen to 2.6%.

According to an email from the Cook County Department of Public Health, they are looking forward to moving on.

Illinois Mask Mandate Gone Monday, But How Long Will They Be In Schools?

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker

“We are glad to be able to move with the rest of the state to lift these measures,” Dr. Rachel Rubin, CCDPH’s Senior Medical Officer, said in a statement. “We thank the residents for their cooperation, and the suburban Cook County business community for their support and compliance.”

And so, with all of these mitigations being lifted as numbers decline, a number of parents and administrators statewide continue to protest and ask that the mask restrictions be lifted in schools.

The Moline-Coal Valley, East Moline and Rock Island-Milan school districts all announced they have gone to a “mask recommended” policy.

Illinois Mask Mandate Gone Monday, But How Long Will They Be In Schools?

All of the Illinois health regions have shown declining numbers of covid infections since the year began.

East Moline School District announced, in a post on its website, that the policy began. Rock Island-Milan School District’s policy is also taking place too, in conjunction with the statewide lifting of mask mandates.

The decisions take place as similar ones are happening all across the state.

Due to the federal transportation mandate masks will still be required on school buses and other transportation for all three school districts.

Gov. JB Pritzker has been insistent upon keeping the mask mandates in schools, even though every state in the U.S. with the exception of Hawaii has lifted mask mandates.

However, Pritkzer’s mandate took a huge hit when a bipartisan legislative committee rejected Illinois Department of Public Health’s attempt to reintroduce the governor’s emergency COVID-19 protocols for classrooms across the state.

The department’s emergency rules — which served as the state’s official guidance on masks, testing and exclusion for those exposed to the coronavirus in schools — expired, but emergency rules were re-filed and put back into place, for a seamless transition.

BREAKING: Illinois Schools Going To 'Mask Optional' Policy; Pritzker Continues Fight For Mask Mandate

Many universities, including Western Illinois, are still running anti-covid campaigns and asking for students to wear masks.

However, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, an oversight panel featuring both Democratic and Republican lawmakers tasked with reviewing rules made by state agencies, voted 9-0 to suspend the emergency rules,. The committee made the decision based in large part due to an on-going court battle that resulted in a temporary restraining order preventing dozens of school districts across the state from requiring students to wear masks in classrooms.

“We’re currently in a situation where the TRO said this rule was not enforceable,” said state Rep. Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island, who is a member of the committee. “It’s possible, if not probable, that this might change on appeal but for now, as we sit here, for that reason, I vote yes [to suspend the emergency rule].”

Pritzker announced earlier this month that he would be removing the statewide indoor mask mandate on Feb. 28, but would be keeping it for schools, causing an outcry among parents and school staffs.

BREAKING: Illinois Schools Going To 'Mask Optional' Policy; Pritzker Continues Fight For Mask Mandate

Mike Halpin

Thousands of students and parents statewide in Illinois have been defying Gov. JB Pritzker’s order for mask mandates in schools upon the announcement of Sangamon County Circuit Judge Raylene Grischow last month granting a request from downstate attorney Tom DeVore to temporarily halt the governor’s executive orders on masking and quarantining for schools. Grischow issued her temporary restraining order on Feb. 4 in response to a lawsuit filed by a group of parents and students representing more than 100 school districts.

For more information on this ongoing situation, continue to monitor QuadCities.com.

Illinois Mask Mandate Gone Monday, But How Long Will They Be In Schools?
Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.
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Illinois Mask Mandate Gone Monday, But How Long Will They Be In Schools?

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