COVID Mask and Mitigation Mandates End for Schools
Date PostedMarch 1, 2022
On February 25, two decisions were rendered that led to an end to the school mask mandate in Illinois, effective February 28.
The Illinois Supreme Court declined to hear the state’s appeal of the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by Sangamon County Judge Raylene D. Grischow that was preventing the state from enforcing certain COVID-19 mitigations in schools, including universal indoor masking. However, the Court simultaneously vacated the TRO, finding the appeal had since become moot based on current circumstances. The Court’s decision leaves open the question about the state’s authority and school districts’ independent authority to mandate certain mitigations in schools during a public health crisis. The underlying lawsuit in Sangamon County involving these issues is still pending.
Also on Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated guidance to recommend masking in schools only in areas of high transmission. The CDC’s new “COVID-19 Community Levels” recommendations align precautions for educational settings with those for other community settings.
A statement by Governor JB Pritzker, released by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), said in part, “I’m also extremely pleased to say that because the CDC has recommended that masks are needed only in areas of high transmission, the State of Illinois will move forward to remove our school mask mandate, effective Monday. We will recommend that all school districts follow CDC guidance and will update our existing guidance in the coming days.”
ISBE and IDPH say the new guidance documents will be posted soon.