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Meridian School District parents push back on in-school mask mandate

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 10:22 PM CDT
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STILLMAN VALLEY, Ill. (WIFR) - Tensions ran high at the latest Meridian School District board meeting, where dozens of parents took the podium and told board members how they feel about Governor JB Pritzker’s mask mandate.

“I couldn’t care less if I finished my last year of school here,” One student in attendance said. “This is something I shouldn’t have to deal with but unfortunately I do and I think enough is enough and it’s time to start fighting for us.”

Adding a face covering to the list of requirements in schools poses challenges to districts, Meridian School District Superintendent PJ Caposey says the unpopular mandate puts him in an extremely difficult position.

“75 percent of our parents said they want mask optional that was the recommendation that was made until the governor took the decision away from local control,” Caposey said.

In an attempt to catch the attention of the board, those opposed to the mandate brought a 75-foot semi-truck to the school. Parents say it’s to advocate for their kids.

“Give each parent in this district the choice of whether or not they want to mask their children,” Parent Kira Carte said.

Caposey says he understands the wants of the community, but there are certain risks that come with disobeying the mandate.

“There’s three things that have been threatened to happen,” Caposey said. “One that we have increased opportunity for litigation, second is increase in liability and the third is a decrease in funding.”

Some parents say they will take their kids out of the district if a face-covering requirement is enforced.

“We are looking into a private school in Rockford that will not be requiring,” Carte said.

“When we do have local control back and we can make decisions on behalf of our kids in our community we hope that you trust us to come back and continue this journey together,” Caposey said.

Discussions on the mask mandate went well into the night. The board eventually unanimously passed a motion to adopt Governor Pritzker’s mandate.

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