Pritzker mask warrant leads to threats against 58 schools, districts

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Illinois Governor JB Pritzker’s mask tenure on August 4 drew criticism from communities he had promised weeks earlier to maintain local control over the safety of COVID-19 students. School districts that do not bow down face severe state sanctions.

Fifty-eight school districts in Illinois have been put on state probation after voting to make masks optional for returning students in defiance of Governor JB Pritzker’s statewide mask tenure.

The governor issued an ultimatum to administrators in these districts: demand masking in schools or forgo state recognition, funding, sports participation and academic prospects for the elderly. He said his orders followed updated recommendations from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, designed to combat the more contagious Delta variant.

But her explanation did little to stem the outcry from parents and school staff who have already voted on how to safely reopen their local schools. They don’t believe Pritzker’s mask tenure is in the best interests of their students.

Frustrated parents have complained to local school districts about the governor’s mask tenure, which has forced “thousands of volunteer school board members and superintendents across the state to act in a way they are personally sympathetic to. disagreement in order to comply with the order, ”according to Meridian school district superintendent PJ Caposey.

An elected member of the Mahomet-Seymour school board even had his medical license investigated by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation after expressing personal opposition to the mandate. The department has since apologized and closed the case, but Dr Jeremy Henrichs and lawmakers argue the communications could have amounted to criminal intimidation.

The Illinois State Board of Education has sent ultimatums to 58 schools or districts. Timothy Christian middle and high schools have complied with state requirements and are once again recognized. Of the remaining 56 school districts, five are currently unrecognized by the state, 15 have voted to comply and are reinstated, and the rest remain on probation.

Pritzker first told the Illinois that he believed masking and other COVID-19 protocols should be a local decision, left to local school leaders advised by local health departments.

“Families should be involved in making decisions for their own families. And, school districts and school boards will be making decisions for schools in their districts, ”Pritzker said on July 17.

But that was before so many school districts exercised their freedom to choose and made what Pritzker saw as the wrong decision.

“Far too few school districts have chosen to follow the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s prescription to keep students and staff safe,” Pritzker said. “Given the strong recommendation from the CDC, I had hoped that a state mask requirement in schools would not be necessary, but it is.”

Pritzker presented his statewide mask mandate on August 4, requiring all students, staff and visitors to private and public schools in Illinois to wear masks, regardless of their immunization status.

Then, on August 26, he imposed a statewide indoor mask warrant for anyone over the age of 2 from August 30. He also mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for all education workers from preschool to college as well as state college students. Healthcare workers must also be vaccinated, with the first vaccines required before September 5, otherwise workers must undergo weekly tests.

“The executive order has the force of law,” said Carmen Ayala, Illinois superintendent of education. “I understand the pressure some school and district leaders may experience from community members, and I will provide all the support you need to understand, communicate and keep order. However, non-compliance is not an option. I will not compromise the health and safety of students or staff, and I will not even risk the life of a child.

She said a non-compliant district would be contacted by the state, placed on probation and requested a “corrective action plan” within 60 days. Failure to comply would mean a complete loss of state funding, an inability to participate in Illinois High School Association and Illinois Elementary School Association sports, and degrees would not be recognized by the state, ” invalidating years of hard work by the students ”.

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