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Illinois schools respond to mask mandate suspension ruling

Illinois schools respond to mask mandate suspension ruling
Published: Feb. 7, 2022 at 1:16 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 7, 2022 at 6:23 PM CST
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(KWQC) - Illinois Quad Cities schools are responding to a temporary restraining order that suspends a mask mandate in schools recently handed down by a Sangamon County judge.

Some schools announced over the weekend that starting Monday their schools will switch to mask optional policies. The schools in the area include Rockridge, Prophetstown Lyndon Tampico, Erie, River Bend, United CUSD #304, West Central CUSD #235 Community school districts.

“Based on her ruling, the District is prohibited from enforcing the state masking and exclusion mandates at this time,” Rockridge School District Superintendent Perry D. Miller said in a letter to parents Sunday.

The letter said starting Monday, students at Rockridge schools will not be required to wear a mask while in school buildings, but a mask will still be required while on school transportation.

Rockridge also said it will honor other schools masking requirements while on their property, but masks will be optional at the district’s events.

“The State has appealed this ruling to the Appellate Court, and it is possible this ruling may be vacated or altered,” Miller said in the letter. “We will provide further updates if and when they are available.”

Prophetstown Lyndon Tampico Community School District Superintendent Heidi Lensing also said in a letter to district parents and students starting Monday the school will have a mask optional policy.

“We expect teachers, staff, and parents to treat one another with respect and compassion,” Lensing said in the letter. “No matter how each of you feel about this decision, we remain in this all together and are stronger when respectful of each other.”

Lensing said that masks will still be required on school buses as well as following rules that are at other venues.

The Erie Community Unit School District has also acted on the restraining order. The school district said in a post on Facebook Sunday they put a “mask recommended policy” effective Monday.

The three school districts said in each letter that the situation is fluid and they will continue to update their policies as needed.

Click the following school districts’ websites to view their statements: River Bend School District (Fulton, Ill.), United CUSD #304 (Monmouth, Ill.), West Central CUSD #235 (Biggsville, Ill.).

The Macomb Police Department said it upped its presence in the school due to the mask mandate being enforced after the ruling on Friday. The Macomb School District was a part of the lawsuit.

The Rock Island-Milan and ROWVA community school districts both released statements that they would continue to enforce their mask mandate policy. The schools were not a part of the lawsuit.

The Sherrard Community School District announced Monday night the School Board voted 6-1 to go to a mask recommended policy after an emergency meeting. The policy went into effect immediately.

“After board review - we decided to make masks strongly recommended per the original intention of the board at the beginning of the school year, prior to Governor Pritzker’s executive order requiring indoor masking in August. After reviewing the details of the current litigation, it’s the board’s belief that putting the decision in the hands of the parents is the best possible outcome,” said school board president Rhys Fullerlove.

The School District said this could be temporary depending on the outcome of an appellate court appeal.

The board also voted to abide by all IESA and IHSA guidelines. “This could mean that students will have to wear masks during competitions. To avoid any interruption of our extra-curricular activities,” said Boucher.

The Sterling Community School District said in a letter to parents and students they have a mask optional policy effective Monday.

The Sterling School District said even though they were not a part of the lawsuit, Sangamon County Judge Raylene D. Grischow plainly ruled that Governor Pritzker’s masking and quarantine requirements in schools were void and unlawful.

They cited the note at the additional personal note at the end of the court ruling stating “This Court has declared IDPH’s Emergency Rules void. Any non-named Plaintiff’s and School District’s throughout this State may govern themselves accordingly.”

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, Illinois State Board of Education, Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala, Illinois Department of Public Health and its director Dr. Ngozi Ezike have filed an appeal in the Fourth Judicial Circuit Sunday.

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