Illinois school mask ruling leads to confusion, varied responses among area districts
Several local school districts opted to strongly recommend masks following a temporary restraining order issued Friday
ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Administrators, parents and students say it’s a day of confusion, after a downstate judge issued a restraining order on the Governor’s statewide mask mandate. Area school districts were left to interpret the order, resulting in several different actions.
In a 30-page ruling late February 4, a downstate judge put a stranglehold on Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 rules for schools. Judge Raylene Grischow issued a temporary restraining order, slamming the Governor’s attempt to regulate mask-wearing in the classroom.
“Statutory rights have attempted to be bypassed through the issuance of Executive Orders and Emergency Rules... This type of evil is exactly what the law was intended to restrain,” Grischow wrote in a statement.
Parents like Ryan Moberg agree. He said he got confused when the Rockton School District sent students home Monday for not wearing their masks.
“It’s unconstitutional and it’s illegal,” Moberg said. “We’ve been dealing with this for three years now. None of them have gotten to experience a dance, none of them have gotten to experience all kinds of things... field trips... everything has been canceled on them.”
Winnebago School District didn’t send students home for not complying, sparking a celebration outside the high school Monday morning.
“These school boards, the governor and these superintendents have been abusing children for well over a year now,” said Beloved Church of Illinois Pastor, Steve Cassell.
“We’re not saying that people cannot be masked, but we’re giving the choice back to the parents on what they want to do for the children,” said plaintiff, Jennifer Hutchinson.
Districts like Rockford, North Boone, Harlem and Belvidere strongly encourage students and staff to wear masks, but they aren’t disciplining those who refuse to comply. Boylan Catholic High School in Rockford, on the other hand, isn’t requiring masks unless the health department issues a quarantine order.
23 News reached out to Byron, Oregon and Rochelle school districts to report their responses but they haven’t answered yet. Freeport is deciding how it will proceed Tuesday.
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