2nd UPDATE: Nettles responds to judge’s mask ruling

District returning to own COVID policy, for now

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CLINTON — Clinton Unit Schools superintendent Curt Nettles notified school families this week about a judge’s ruling in Sangamon County dealing with the state’s COVID masking rules.  The judge issued a temporary restraining order against the rules.

Essentially, the judge ruled in favor of the 145 Illinois school districts and against Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). 

“Due to strong language from the judge in this case, it appear to us that it gives us the support to go back to our original plan for the school year,” Nettles wrote in his message to families.  “We also note that it is recommended by health organizations, so we want all of our families to know that masking in our schools for students and staff will be highly acceptable.”

Nettles said mask-wearing would not be required until further notice but included a caveat.

“It is possible we could find ourselves in situations to increase our mitigations at some point.  However, those would be announced and explained to families, if necessary.”

Policy from the state affecting schools removed most local school district controls regarding COVID mitigation, including the wearing of masks.  School districts argued that circumstances varied from district to district, so they should be allowed to use their own mitigation plans.

Nettles said there would “be a lot of pressure” on school boards and staff around Illinois caused by disagreement with the judge’s ruling.

“Our community and district should strive to be tolerant of others’ opinions on the matter,” he wrote in his message.  “In regard to the student we serve, our staff will continue to teach tolerance and all of the character traits that embody what a good CUSD 15 student and staff member should be.”

He said the district would support students who wanted to continue wearing masks.

On Tuesday, Illinois Education Association vice president Al Llorens issued a statement recommending school districts wait for a ruling from the appellate court before making decisions about COVID safety measures.  IEA is the state's largest teachers' union.

Also on Tuesday, Gov. Pritzker announced an upcoming change in mask policy but did not give details.