Algonquin-based School District 300 administrative office | Photo: Elara Engineering

Classes were canceled Monday for schools in Algonquin-based School District 300 “to ensure a safe learning environment” following a court ruling against Illinois’ school mask and exclusion guidelines.

District 300, which serves over 23,000 students and is the sixth-largest district in Illinois, initially said on Sunday that masks would continue to be required in their schools on Monday.

Community Unit School District 300 Superintendent Susan Harkin sent a letter notifying parents Monday morning that all schools in the district would be closed on Monday.

“The district will be implementing an emergency day as a proactive measure to ensure a safe learning environment for our students and our staff,” Harkin said.

“This decision has been made due to the volume of messages we received late last night from parents expressing concerns regarding the district’s decision to continue enforcing requirements relating to masks and school exclusion for close contacts,” Harkin said.

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Harkin said the district apologizes for the late notice and said the district would send more information Monday evening.

District 300 was one of many defendants named in a lawsuit brought on by parents and employees who argued against a number of COVID-19 safety measures in schools.

Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Raylene Grischow on Friday issued a ruling in the lawsuit and deemed the governor’s emergency rules through the Illinois Department of Public Health “null and void” when it comes to COVID-19 mitigations in schools.

“The arbitrary method as to contact tracing and masking in general continue to raise fair questions as to the legality of the Executive Orders in light of violations of healthy children’s substantive due process rights,” Grischow said in the ruling.

“Statutory rights have attempted to be bypassed through the issuance of Executive Orders and Emergency Rules … This type of evil is exactly what the law was intended to constrain,” Grischow said.

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

Approximately 150 of Illinois’ 840 school districts were named as defendants in the lawsuit, including District 300.

Those school districts named in the suit are restrained from requiring masks if a person objects, “except during the terms of lawful order of quarantine issued from their respective health department, in accordance with the IDPH Act.”

The named school districts in the suit are also restrained from refusing attendance to students who are deemed a “close contact” of a confirmed COVID-19 case, and the schools cannot require their staff to be vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID testing.

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