High school parents sue to block Pritzker COVID-19 vax mandates

High school parents sue to block Pritzker COVID-19 vax mandates

Illinois parents of athletes sued to prevent school districts and state powers from mandating vaccinations for high school students. The lawsuit argues such an order would be arbitrary and violate students’ rights.

The high school parents challenging Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s ability to use emergency powers to cancel student sports and mandate athletes wear masks changed their lawsuit to try to block him from forcing COVID-19 vaccinations on students.

The amended complaint was filed Jan. 3 in Sangamon County Circuit Court.

“When it becomes politically expedient for him to do so in the future, and because it is important, politically, that he appears to be in control of the spread of a virus that it is impossible to control the spread of, Governor Pritzker, acting through … the Illinois Department of Public Health, will impose a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on high school students and athletes in the near future even though there is no legitimate medical or public health reason for him to do so, and doing so will not have a rational basis in mitigating against the COVID-19 pandemic,” the plaintiffs wrote in their updated complaint.

The plaintiffs claim any mandate for the general student population would ultimately extend to high school athletes. They argue requiring vaccination would amount to an “arbitrary” response to the pandemic, driven by politics, that would violate high school students’ rights to equal protection.

The lawsuit dates back to December 2020, when the parents claimed Pritzker’s unilateral decision to ban most fall and winter high school sports for the 2020-2021 season hurt their children.

The plaintiffs said their student athletes lapsed into depression, developed anger issues and refused to leave their homes for a time as a direct result of the shutdown order. They also claimed the shutdowns cost students the opportunity to land college athletic scholarships.

The lawsuit was first revised after high school sports returned to include language challenging Pritzker’s ability to order a mask mandate for competing athletes. The most recent update has been in response to the increasing number of vaccine mandates in Illinois.

So far, the parents’ lawsuit has survived multiple attempts by the governor and Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul to dismiss it. If successful, the suit would block the enforcement of vaccination and masking requirements for all Illinois students while prohibiting further high school sports cancelations.

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!