Masks still required in CPS, despite court dismissal of Pritzker's appeal
CHICAGO - Although an Illinois appellate court has blocked Governor J.B. Pritzker's appeal of a downstate judge's ruling over masks in schools, Chicago Public School students will still be wearing masks in the classroom – for the time being.
The decision to block Pritzker's appeal was made late Thursday night. This now leaves it up to individual school districts to decide whether they will impose a mask mandate for students and teachers.
On Friday, CPS released a statement saying the schools will continue to enforce universal masking.
"Chicago Public Schools (CPS) stands by our proven COVID-19 safety mitigation measures and is pleased the Appellate Court has confirmed that the Temporary Restraining Order does not prohibit school districts from independently requiring masks, vaccinations for staff, and requiring individuals who have tested positive or have been exposed to COVID-19 to learn/work from home.
"Our schools will continue to enforce these policies, including mandated universal masking.These safety measures are what have allowed us to provide our students with the in-person learning environment they need throughout this school year. We will continue to follow these protocols until such time as our public health partners advise us that restrictions can be safely lifted."
CPS says it is encouraged to see COVID-19 cases are continuing to decline, adding the schools are optimistic about what this could mean for school communities in the future.
In Northwest suburban Park Ridge, District 64 made a move to "mask recommended"earlier this week, after the state legislative committee declined to extend the mask mandate.
At Lincoln Middle School most students arrived wearing masks, but there were plenty of kids without them too.
In a letter to parents, Dr Eric Olson, the superintendent of District 64, which includes Park Ridge and Niles said "COVID-19 rates have dropped significantly in our area ... effective Wednesday, February 16, District 64 will now be a mask recommended environment for students and staff," he said, adding that masks are still "highly recommended."
Some parents felt the decision was hasty.
"I feel like it was rushed. I would have preferred a slow reduction of the mitigations," said parent Karen Burkum.
"I know it's optional, but still for us, it isn't a bother. The kids got used to it and I think we want to do everything possible to prevent the spread of (the) virus. So why not," said Alicja Jankowska, whose son plans to keep wearing his.
But parent Tom Kearney welcomed the option to not wear a mask.
"I feel good about that, I do. I think it's good that the kids can have a choice if they want to wear a mask or not. If they feel they need it, they can wear it. And the ones who have issues .. don't have to," said Kearney.
The District is encouraging parents to talk with their children about respecting the choice of their classmates whether they mask up or not.
Masks are still required on school buses or other school transportation.
And for sports or other events, District 64 will follow the policy of the school hosting.