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Parents frustrated by Macomb School District mask requirement

Macomb JR-SR High School
Macomb JR-SR High School(WGEM)
Published: Feb. 7, 2022 at 11:59 AM CST
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MACOMB (WGEM) - Macomb Police announced Monday they would increase their presence within the Macomb School District after the district chose to keep its masking requirement.

Macomb School District Superintendent Patrick Twomey said the district increased police presence on school grounds Monday, as there were talks on social media of potential protests happening at the school. However, he said there were no protests that occurred.

Twomey announced Sunday the district would maintain its masking requirement despite a Sangamon County judge issuing a temporary restraining order against the state-issued making mandate on Friday.

Twomey said the temporary order does not change the district’s independent requirement that students wear masks and require precautions for close contact.

“The order issued by the judge is being appealed to the appellate court, and we will await that ruling to see if the judge’s injunction will be upheld,” Twomey said. “In the meantime, the current rules regarding masking and close contact exclusion mitigations will remain in place. This includes masking on the busses and at all extra-curricular events.”

Twomey reinforced his position Monday. He said it does not benefit students to change protocols when they might have to change them back in just a couple weeks.

“There is an emergency Stay Order which will be decided today or tomorrow and an appeal that will be ruled on in less than two weeks,” Twomey said. “Without staying the course until the appeal is heard, we could be forced into changing our protocols three times in less than two weeks, which would not benefit anyone and certainly not the students. I simply ask for just a little more grace and patience as we near the end the way we began… together.”

The temporary restraining order issued Friday suspends enforcement of Illinois Department of Public Health and Illinois State Board of Education Emergency Rules put into effect to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The restraining order states those rules are “null and void” and cannot be enforced against the plaintiffs in the 145 schools involved in the lawsuit, unless the plaintiffs are given due process, which would require a quarantine order issued by the local health department.

Brandon Nelson has many children in the Macomb School District who he says have a hard time learning while wearing masks.

“We actually have seven children in the district and we had to pull six of them because of the restraints. The school district wasn’t listening to us,” Nelson said.

Nelson and around 30 other parents expressed their frustrations with Twomey in a meeting on Monday as they wanted to see change.

“When we received the judgment on Friday, that gave us the course of action. We wanted to see change for our children. We were tired of hearing complaints from the children and we had that now with the judgment,” Nelson said.

Twomey said the district is going to wait for the official ruling before changing any protocols.

“Once the appeal takes place and a ruling is made at the appeal, we will have a definite direction of what we should do,” Twomey said.

The temporary restraining order only applies to school districts named in the lawsuit, including the Macomb Community School District. Other districts named include the Quincy School District, the Pleasant Hill Community School District, the Payson Community School District, the Pikeland Community School District, the Central Community School District, the Illini-West High School District, the Unity School District, the Liberty School District, the Schuyler-Industry Community School District, the Warsaw Community School District and the Carthage Elementary School District.

Although the temporary restraining suspends the enforcement of IDPH and ISBE’s Emergency Rules, it does not prevent school districts from enforcing their own mask mandates.

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