Districts await legal decision that could overturn mask requirement

This+pending+class+action+lawsuit+will+affect+over+140+school+districts+across+Illinois

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This pending class action lawsuit will affect over 140 school districts across Illinois

Anna Pierson , Editor-in-Chief

In early January, a Sangamon County judge heard arguments from the DeVore Lawsuit seeking to overturn mask requirements in schools across Illinois. A ruling is anticipated to be released next week at the earliest. 

The lawsuit, initially filed by Attorney Thomas DeVore in October on behalf of parents from 145 school districts across the state including District 115 and District 67, challenges Governor JB Pritzker’s executive orders requiring masks in schools, vaccine or testing for school employees, and the exclusion of students from in-person learning if they have been identified as close contacts. 

The decision of the case would extend to all students in a school district, not just those of the named plaintiffs.

If the judge rules in favor of the plaintiff, all 145 districts involved in the suit, including District 67 and 115 will be, for the time being, unable to enforce the use of masks or exclude close contacts from in person learning.

If the judge denies the motion of a temporary restraining order on the mandate, masks will continue to be required and enforced. 

On Wednesday, Superintendent Matthew Mongomery issued a letter to District 67 and District 115 parents and guardians regarding the anticipated legal decision “in the spirit of transparency and ‘no surprises.’”

“If the Court issues a temporary restraining order on the mask mandate as well as close contact exclusions, the District will cooperate while continuing to encourage mask wearing and the implementation of all of our other mitigation strategies which, to date, have proven largely effective,” the letter states. 

Principal Erin Lenart also reached out to LFHS staff via email. 

“We will be campaigning to both promote mask wearing during the surge and strongly encourage quarantines and isolation when appropriate,” she said.

Among the measures that will be taken should the temporary restraining order take place will be plexiglass partitions available for all teacher desks in classrooms and KN95 masks available for all students and staff. 

LFHS students are anticipating the release of the court decision. 

Some question the argument for not requiring masks.

“If masks are keeping me and my classmates safe, then why would we get rid of them in the first place?” senior Ally Galiene asked. 

Galiene also advocates for further measures to be taken to mitigate risks if masks are no longer required. 

“If masks aren’t required, then we should definitely have mandatory weekly testing,” she said. 

Junior Mariella Haubner expresses concern for both herself and her teachers, and plans to continue to wear one at school despite the judge’s ruling.

“I don’t want to get sick, and I believe they help,” Haubner said. “I know a lot of teachers would not feel comfortable coming to school when this surge is going on if we are no longer protected. I feel the same way. No one wants to get COVID, so why are we starting to stop caring?”

Others, however, are in favor of removing the mask requirement.

“If you are a perfectly healthy person who shows no symptoms of any sickness, the mask should simply be your choice. Taking the choice away from the people would be in direct conflict with what makes our nation so great,” senior Patrick Lindemann said. “I believe if the judge were to rule in favor of disbanding the mandate, there would be collective cheers from most of the students and many members of the faculty.”

As the community awaits the ruling, Dr. Montgomery vows that the school will continue to be transparent. 

“We will keep you updated as we learn more and remain committed to the health, safety, and well-being of our District students, staff, and families,” he said.