Lake Forest High School, elementary schools in Lake Forest say they will be optional with a mask following a court ruling

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File Photo – Lake Forest High School | Photo: Google Street View

Lake Forest High School and Lake Forest Elementary Schools say they will comply with a recent court ruling and will not require masks or exclude students who are close contacts of COVID from school. .

In a 30-page ruling Friday night, Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Raylene Grischow ruled the governor’s emergency rules through the Illinois Department of Public Health “null and void.” void” regarding COVID-19 mitigation measures in schools.

“The arbitrary method of contact tracing and masking in general continues to raise fair questions about the legality of executive orders in light of violations of the fundamental due process rights of healthy children,” Grischow said in the statement. decision.

“Statutory rights have been attempted to be circumvented through the issuance of executive orders and emergency rules… This type of harm is exactly what the law was meant to limit,” Grischow said.

Schools affected by litigation by more than 700 parents and dozens of school staff are temporarily blocked from enforcing Pritzker’s COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates.

About 150 of Illinois’ 840 school districts have been named defendants in the lawsuit.

The school districts named in the lawsuit are not permitted to require masks if a person objects, “except during the conditions of the lawful quarantine order issued by their respective health department, pursuant to IDPH law.”

School districts named in the lawsuit are also barred from refusing attendance to students who are considered a “close contact” of a confirmed case of COVID-19, and schools cannot require their staff to be vaccinated or subjected to weekly COVID tests.

Because Grischow ruled that the IDPH and ISBE emergency rules are void, school districts in the state that were not part of the lawsuit can “govern themselves accordingly,” Grischow said.

Both Lake Forest School Districts 67 and 115 have been named as defendants in the lawsuit.

Matthew L. Montgomery, who is the superintendent of District 67 and District 115, said both school districts will “fully comply” with the court’s decision.

Effective Monday, both districts will no longer require masks in their schools but will continue to recommend masks for their students and staff.

Special accommodations will be made for medically fragile students, Montgomery said. “Please contact your student’s case manager, counselor, or building director if your student falls into this category.”

Any staff member or student who is considered a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case will be “strongly encouraged” to wear a mask at school, monitor for symptoms, and be tested if symptoms appear but do not. will not be subject to the exclusion, Montgomery mentioned.

Any isolation issued specifically by the Lake County Health Department must be confirmed by students and staff, school officials said.

Masks are still required for all students on all school buses based on the current federal mandate, Montgomery said.

“There are several points of view on this question. Whatever your family or personal choice regarding masking, I ask everyone to lead with kindness. It is extremely important that we respect everyone’s personal decisions. We will not tolerate any form of bullying or disrespectful behavior,” Montgomery said.

Gov. JB Pritzker said his administration was appealing the decision and there would be “serious consequences” as a result of the decision.

“The serious consequence of this misguided decision is that schools in these districts no longer have sufficient tools to keep students and staff safe as COVID-19 continues to threaten our communities – and this may require schools to s ‘move away,’ Pritzker said in a statement. .

“This shows once again that the mask mandate and school exclusion protocols are essential tools in keeping schools open and everyone safe. As we have done since the start of the pandemic, the administration will continue to work to ensure that every Illinois has the tools necessary to keep themselves and their loved ones safe,” Pritzker said.

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