Pritzker files appeal against ruling made by downstate Illinois judge on school mask mandates, vaccination and testing requirements

RPS, other local districts react with caution
Rockford Public Schools change mask mandate policy in response to ruling by downstate Illinois...
Rockford Public Schools change mask mandate policy in response to ruling by downstate Illinois judge on Friday(Stephanie Quirk)
Published: Feb. 6, 2022 at 8:50 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Gov. JB Prtizker addresses Judge Raylene Grischow’s temporary restraining order against mandated COVID-19 mitigations in schools as “out of step with the vast majority of legal analysis in Illinois and across the nation,” on Monday in a press conference.

Pritzker filed on Saturday an emergency motion to stay Friday’s temporary restraining order by Judge Grischow. More than 145 school districts are included in the 29-page temporary restraining order.

As students prepare to return to school for the first time since the downstate Illinois judge issued their ruling, districts throughout the Stateline are developing plans on how to approach COVID mitigations for Monday.

23 News has learned more on how the largest and third largest school districts in the Stateline are handling Friday afternoon’s restraining order ruling by a Sangamon County Judge.

RPS District 205 told it’s staff the district will continue to educate students on the health and safety benefits of masking; but they will not discipline students who refuse to wear masks, nor will they engage in confrontational dialogue with students or parents on the topic.

Meanwhile 23 News has learned the Harlem School District told it’s staff that mask wearing, quarantining close contacts, and weekly testing for unvaccinated staff will be strongly recommended but not required. Winnebago Schools, Dixon Schools and the Diocese of Rockford (which includes Boylan High School) also sent a letter to parents saying masks will not be required starting Monday.

RPS and Harlem were not named in the lawsuit that led to the restraining order being placed Friday. But the Stateline’s second largest district was. And Belvidere School District 100 sent a letter to it’s parents saying at this time masks will continue to be required in all schools and on school buses. The district will also continue to follow close contact exclusion protocols. The North Boone, Rockton and Roscoe school districts sent similar messages to parents on keeping the mask mandates in place for now.

The Northern Illinois Public Health Consortium sent out a statement Sunday night regarding the restraining order suspending mandated masking for schools.

“The Local Health Departments of the Northern Illinois Public Health Consortium

(NIPHC) are aware of the most recent judicial ruling impacting schools in our local

jurisdictions and throughout the state of Illinois and recognizes the independent

authority of local school districts to determine what mitigations will be adopted in

their schools in accordance with the Governor’s Executive Orders. NIPHC

recommends local school districts to continue to adopt a layered approach to

mitigation to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 among staff, students, and the

community including vaccination, masking, and isolation of ill individuals. NIPHC

Local Health Departments will continue to conduct case investigations for COVID-19

and issue quarantine and isolation orders in certain circumstances under their

authority as outlined in Section 2 of the Department of Public Health Act and Illinois

Administrative Code - Part 690 Control of Communicable Diseases Code in

partnership with local schools in its jurisdiction. "

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