Pritzker extends indoor mask mandate through Feb. 28, keeps students masked

Pritzker extends indoor mask mandate through Feb. 28, keeps students masked

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is keeping Illinois’ indoor mask mandate in place through Feb. 28. Schools statewide will be required to keep students and staff masked.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he will lift his statewide indoor mask mandate Feb. 28, but unlike other states he’s forcing students and school staff to keep their masks on.

Other states are currently dropping their mandates sooner, including letting schools decide whether students should wear masks.

“We still have the sensitive locations of K-12 schools, where we have lots of people who are, you know, joined together in smaller spaces, thousands of people interacting in one location at a time, and so that’s something that will come weeks hence,” he said Feb. 9.

The decision to phase out statewide pandemic protocols coincides with announcements this week that New York, New Jersey, California, Delaware, Connecticut, Nevada and Oregon will do the same.

Illinois has been under Pritzker’s emergency pandemic rules for 703 days since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 5,825 new daily cases Feb. 8, an 82% decline from the Jan. 12 peak. New hospitalizations dropped to 2,634 daily, down 64%.

The news comes days after the Pritzker administration filed notice it’s appealing a downstate judge’s ruling that has temporarily blocked his masking order for students and teachers in 170 Illinois schools.

Pritzker said the ruling by Sangamon County Cirucit Judge Raylene Grischow that the order overstepped his executive authority and breached constitutionally protected due process relied on “poor legal reasoning” and “cultivates chaos.”

An expected appellate court decision is due by Feb. 17. Many schools have made masks optional or recommended in the meantime.

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