Courts could block Chicago Public Schools mask mandate
Despite revised statewide orders, Chicago Public Schools are still requiring universal masking in all schools and offices after the Chicago Teachers Union forced the change through a walkout. A judge was asked to let student faces go free.
Chicago Public Schools students and staff will stay masked in class “for now,” CEO Pedro Martinez reminded parents in a letter as the rest of Illinois’ students were able to remove their masks.
But Martinez and the Chicago Teachers Union may not have the final say: A temporary restraining order is being sought to halt the masking.
Sangamon County Circuit Judge Rayleme Grischow was asked March 1 for a temporary restraining order because students are being harmed by being forced into a form of quarantine without any process to appeal or challenge the validity of the mandate.
The Chicago Board of Education recently voted to keep masks and other COVID-19 safety rules, but Martinez has the authority to change masking policies.
Even though the statewide mandate no longer calls for it, CPS will continue indoor masking thanks to the safety agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union imposed after the union walked out on students for five days in January. Students will have to stay masked, but neither they nor their parents had any input into the CTU-CPS agreement.
Districts across the state have gone mask optional, but Chicago board members cited low vaccination rates as a reason to keep their mask rules. The district has 53% of CPS students 12 and older fully vaccinated, and 91% of staff.
CTU’s agreement contradicting the rest of the state could become common practice under Amendment 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot. It would allow union contracts to permanently override state law. CTU’s power to bargain and strike caused three work stoppages in 27 months, including the January walkout.
Amendment 1 could cement public union control that could never been taken away. Teachers unions went on strike 48 times during the past decade, a power none of Illinois’ neighbor states grant their teachers unions.
Do teachers union bosses really need any more control over what should be the choices of parents and local school boards?