Dear CCSD 21 Families,
Earlier today a bipartisan legislative panel that is charged with approving statewide administrative rules known as the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) voted to not renew the Illinois Department of Public Health’s emergency rules regarding masking in school.
Earlier this month, a Temporary Restraining Order was issued in a lawsuit by a Sangamon County Judge that put on hold the enforcement of the Governor’s mask mandate for those school districts who were a party to the lawsuit. That ruling has been appealed by the Illinois State Attorney General and we await the ruling of the Appellate Court in that case.
At this time it is not completely clear what the district’s authority is to enforce the Governor’s mask mandate. Likewise, we are unclear as to what local authority the Board of Education has on this subject. We do not believe we will have full clarity on this issue until the Appellate Court rules in this matter.
As a result of this continued uncertainty, and to avoid any potential major disruption to the school day, beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, February 16, 2022, CCSD 21 will suspend enforcement of the mandatory masking of students. Please note that due to Federal regulation for transportation, masks will still be required on school buses.
While COVID infections rates are declining, we are still in a state of high community spread. We strongly recommend that students continue to wear masks while attending school.
For any family who may have a child or household member(s) who are at higher risk for severe disease due to COVID infection, please know that the district stands ready to work with you to support your child’s and family’s health and safety. Please contact your child’s principal directly with any questions or concerns.
Above all we expect kindness and courtesy to and from all students, families, and staff. Please discuss with your child the importance of being kind and understanding to all regardless of their choice to continue to wear a mask or not. This has been an extremely emotionally taxing time for our entire school community and it is of the utmost importance that we not allow disagreements around this issue to negatively impact how our students interact with each other.
If the Appellate Court rules to uphold the Governor’s mask mandate, the district may once again be required to enforce that policy in accordance with the court’s order.
My deepest thanks for your continued support, understanding, and patience as schools across Illinois navigate these extremely uncertain times.
Dr. Michael Connolly
Superintendent of Schools