Illinois school mask decision leads to confusion and varied responses among districts – NBC Chicago

At least one school district in Illinois has canceled classes for Monday and many others have moved to recommend masks following a ruling by a lower-state judge that effectively bans a mask requirement at statewide in schools.

On Friday, Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Raylene Grischow issued a temporary restraining order as she declared Governor JB Pritzker’s emergency rules for COVID-19 mitigation measures in the “null and void” schools. Pritzker called the decision “misguided,” hours after it was released, announcing the state’s plan to appeal.

As school districts across the state begin to interpret the order, different actions are being taken.

Geneva Community United School District 304 announced it would cancel classes on Monday, explaining that setting up an emergency day was in its best interest.

“We recognize the challenges this decision may have for our families, but given the fluidity of the situation, we are confident that this time is necessary to effectively plan for any potential impact on our students, staff and school community,” said said Dr. Kent. Mutchler, superintendent.

Consolidated Community School District 181, which has schools in Clarendon Hills, Hinsdale and Burr Ridge, said Monday would be an emergency distance learning day.

READ: Judge Raylene Grischow’s full decision here.

“Due to the multiple interpretations of the ruling and the status of state mandates, it is highly likely that there will be disruptions in our schools, which will have a substantial negative impact on the delivery of education and the health and safety of our students and staff,” the district said in a letter to families.

Arlington Heights School District 25 has distributed a letter to parents saying it will be in a “mask recommended environment” — at least during the period of the temporary restraining order.

Crystal Lake Elementary District 47 posted a similar message explaining that “face masks will be strongly recommended but not required at school and at all school-related events for staff and students, as well as for visitors and volunteers.

In the southern suburbs of Burbank, School District 111 “will fully comply with the court’s decision” but recommends that masks be worn by all students and staff in school buildings.

The Elgin U46 Area School District is meeting its demands, explaining that its school board approved a resolution in August last year arguing that the district is following recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the local health agencies.

“In her decision, Judge Grischow recognizes the independent authority of school districts,” the superintendent said. Tony Sanders said in a letter to parents.

However, the district explained that there are students who have exceptions as they are included in the lawsuit in which the TRO was issued.

Vernon Hills-based Community High School District 128 will also continue to enforce the mask mandate, except with respect to students named in the lawsuit.

Others, however, are waiting for clarification before proceeding.

School District 308 in the Oswego Community Unit said it was “consulting with our district attorneys to better understand the impact of the decision on our students and staff.”

Some districts are put in a different situation because of collective agreements.

According to the ruling, such agreements remain enforceable, such as the one between the CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union.

“…We expect the Mayor and CPS to act responsibly and uphold our agreement to require masks – by providing KN95 masks to every adult and child in our schools,” CTU said in a statement. . “That’s what the overwhelming majority of parents and families in Chicago support.”

The lawsuit in question was filed last year by more than 700 parents who alleged that Pritzker’s order on COVID-19 mitigation measures in schools deprived students of due process.

Attorney Thomas DeVore, who represents the hundreds of parents, said the case was not about promoting an anti-mask agenda, but rather focusing on who has the power to make such decisions.

“It’s not about masks, it’s not about whether they’re good or bad,” he said. “It’s not about whether we should have them or not, it’s about who can make those decisions and how those decisions are made.”

But at least one Illinois school parent believes the lawsuit and temporary restraining order won’t help end the pandemic.

“These are not normal times,” said Shannon Limjuco, a parent from Wheaton Community School District 200. “And we need to enable our schools to have…and use the tools that can keep our schools safely open.”

NBC Chicago

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