The Illinois State Board of Education might have overstepped its authority by yanking recognition of schools that defied a statewide mask mandate. State lawmakers have asked the board to clarify those rules.
Gov. J.B Pritzker has warned district administrators since early August that ISBE would strip state recognition from Illinois schools defying his statewide mask mandate. House Bill 4135 aims to give the state board of education that power.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced all Illinoisans age 2 and up are required to wear masks inside public spaces effective Aug. 30. All school and health care workers must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 5, as must college students.
Timothy Christian Schools tried to keep their mask-optional policy despite Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s statewide school mask mandate. The state quickly stripped the schools of their recognition, crippling their high school seniors as they started college applications. Masks are now on.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker promised to respect local school boards and private school autonomy, until too few were doing what he wanted. So he reversed himself, mandating masks for both private and public Illinois schools.
Illinois public health administrators joined the CDC’s calls for masks in all elementary and high schools, although school districts have the final say. They recommend most Illinoisans, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, should be masking in indoor public spaces.
Chicago Public Schools will require all students and staff to wear masks inside school buildings this fall. CPS’s mask mandate ignored the CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines that advise masking indoors only for unvaccinated people.
Illinois schools can resume in-person learning without masks next month now that the state has clarified its guidance to acknowledge local school boards should decide which COVID-19 policies best fit their students.