CLINTON COUNTY, IL — Students in Carlyle CUSD 1 are scheduled to return to class today after being on remote learning after nearly 30% of its 1,004 students had to quarantine because they either tested positive for COVID or were considered a close contact as of Aug. 27, according to the district.
The district’s recognition was restored Aug. 31, according to the Illinois State Board of Education, after the local school board voted to amend the return-to-learn plan to require masks at a special meeting Aug. 23. The state has also restored the recognition status of the Red Bud CUSD 132 in Randolph County after its school board voted to comply with the mask mandate Aug. 19.
Some Illinois school districts have decided to fight mask mandates in court rather than submit to the State Board of Education demands. Members of the Beecher City Unit 20 School District Board of Education voted 7-0 Wednesday night to hire attorney Thomas Devore and his Silver Lake Group, LTD as special legal counsel to represent the school district in all legal proceedings to fight the mask mandate. The district is on probation for not providing the Illinois State Board of Education with a return-to-school plan that requires the use of masks. By approving the motion, the school district would be responsible for all legal expenses to determine if the ISBE has the lawful authority to take away the district’s recognition status for failing to require masks as mandated by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Office of the Governor.
An earlier agenda item to consider an update to their return to school plan was tabled when no board member made a motion to move forward. Besides Carlyle, the only other school outbreak denoted as having more than 16 cases in the last 30 days is Staunton CUSD 6 in Macoupin County. Staunton went remote for an “adaptive pause” in August after nearly 100 students had to quarantine, and returned to school in-person last Monday. According to the Illinois State Board of Education’s summary, Red Bud and Carlyle were sent their probation notice letters Aug. 12. Since then, the state board has continued to send out notice letters to others, with the most recent being sent to Brownstown CUSD 201 in Fayette County on Aug. 27.
Of the 59 school districts listed, 19 have not yet had their recognition status fully restored.