Parents, students, schools await ruling on mask mandate challenge

Parents, students, schools await ruling on mask mandate challenge

ILLINOIS (IRN) — Parents, students and schools across the state are waiting for a ruling from a circuit court judge on a petition to block masks from being required on children in some Illinois schools.

Illinois is one of 13 states that still require masks on school children. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has had the mandate in place since August.

A case heard in Sangamon County Circuit Court Thursday has more than 700 parents suing 145 school districts, the governor and state education officials over the mandates that include excluding students from in-person learning for possibly being exposed to COVID-19. 

Pritzker Thursday criticized the parents’ case, saying they are fighting against “freedom from” COVID-19.

“That’s what we’re looking to do, to give people their freedom from the virus,” Pritzker said. “These people are holding us back and they’re going to close schools as a result if they were to win.”

Some schools have said their operations could be hindered without the mandate. Other schools have had masks optional all school year with minimal disruptions. Schools that don’t mandate masks face nonrecognition status from the Illinois State Board of Education, something that could mean loss of state funds and participation with recognized schools in extracurricular activities. 

Attorney Thomas DeVore, who represents the parents, argued in court the issue is about individual due process rights laid out in state law.

“These children have rights when it comes to these masks, which are a device intended to limit the spread, when it comes to exclusion from school,” DeVore said. “They all have rights and their rights need to be protected and we’re asking you to protect their rights.”

DeVore argues if public health officials want to quarantine, vaccinate or mask someone out of health concerns, and the person is not willing, they must prove in court the person is a health risk. That largely is not happening with the mask and exclusion mandates.

Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Raylene Grischow said not to expect a ruling before Friday, Jan. 28.

Attorney Kathleen Gibbons represents one of the districts and said the potential harm of possibly spreading COVID-19 by not requiring everyone to wear a mask is too great.

“These decisions do not affect just these individual students and their parents, they affect all the rest of the children in Valley View, all the teachers, all the staff and all the parents and other family members in those homes,” Gibbons said.

But parents’ attorney Will Gerber said you can’t take a student’s rights away based on hypotheticals.

“[The mandate] is allowing schools to take healthy children out of school, remove them from public education, without the right to be heard,” Gerber said.

Separate petitions found at have thousands of signatures for and against mask mandates in Illinois schools.

Concert Calendar

Santana and Earth, Wind & Fire @ Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre

Santana and Earth, Wind & Fire @ Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre

July 1, 2022 @ 7:00 pm From Team Santana: The Santana and Earth, Wind & Fire “Miraculous Supernatural Tour” will now start in June of 2022. Your tickets will be honored for the rescheduled shows. Refunds are available at the original point of purchase for 30 days. We truly can’t wait to see you…

Motley Crue & Def Leppard @ Busch Stadium

Motley Crue & Def Leppard @ Busch Stadium

RESCHEDULED  JULY 5, 2022 @ 4:00 PM Motley Crüe and Def Leppard have announced that they are rescheduling their 2021 stadium tour to 2022. The new date for STL will be July 5, 2022 All tickets will be honored for the new date. Click HERE for more ticket info

El Monstero & Living Colour

El Monstero & Living Colour

El Monstero & Living Colour at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre on Saturday, July 9th ON SALE • NOWSPECIAL • Lawn and Select Reserved tickets just $19.95 + fees first week of sales Click HERE to purchase tickets

Local Weather