School association doesn’t expect ISBE to enforce mask mandate ‘at this point’

School association doesn’t expect ISBE to enforce mask mandate ‘at this point’

ILLINOIS (IRN) — An association representing large school districts across Illinois expects the issue of mask mandates to eventually dissipate, despite the attorney general appealing to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Earlier this month, a circuit court judge ruled Pritzker’s mask and exclusion policies for students and vaccine or testing mandates on staff null and void. Thursday, an appeals court dismissed the governor’s appeal. The attorney general is appealing to the Illinois Supreme Court, saying the governor’s mandates are still in effect.

“The Appellate Court’s failure to address the important legal issues in question has added to the confusion resulting from the circuit court’s decision prioritizing a relatively small group of plaintiffs who refuse to acknowledge science or the need for public health measures to protect vulnerable Illinois residents,” Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said.

Large Unit District Association Executive Director John Burkey told The Center Square “things continue to be in turmoil, in terms of the guidance that actual districts are getting.

“What I think, it’s pretty clear we are progressing to a point where masking will not be required statewide in schools and I think with the appellate court decisions … we are just one step, maybe one big step closer to that,” Burkey said.

While some of his member districts are still requiring masks because of COVID-19 transmission rates in their areas, Burkey said many of his districts are going mask recommended.

“But I think our districts are much more looking at this now as a local issue than they were a couple of weeks ago [after the circuit court decision],” he said.

The Illinois State Board of Education won’t say if they’ll continue to pursue nonrecognition status for the growing number of schools that are going mask optional in defiance of Pritkzer’s insistence that his orders still stand.

Since the governor’s orders in August, ISBE has pursued punishing schools, public and private, for not enforcing mask mandates, or having written mask-optional or recommended policies. The agency was rebuffed by the courts and by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules leading to changes to the process.

In the most recent updated list published Jan. 7, ISBE has about seven private schools listed as recommended for non-recognition status, with two on probation. Four public schools are listed as on probation.

A request for comment from ISBE on whether the agency will pursue non-recognition for a growing number of mask-optional schools, or how many such districts there are, was not returned. A statement was provided instead. 

“We are disappointed in the appellate court’s decision and concerned for the health of those in schools – particularly vulnerable children and adults,” State Superintendent of Education Carmen Ayala said. “We hope to do everything we can together to preserve the ability to continue in-person learning.”

“The court has made it clear that school districts can continue to keep their own mitigations in place,” Ayala said. “School district leaders should continue to consult with your own legal counsel as to the specific impact of the decision on your school district.” 

As to district concerns of being punished by ISBE, Burkey said districts feel this may soon dissipate.

“I do not think that they expect ISBE will be pursuing that at this point,” Burkey said.

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