Multiple schools in Lake County, including some in Libertyville, Barrington, Buffalo Grove and Lake Forest, have gone mask-optional following the court ruling regarding school COVID mitigations.
Libertyville School District 70 Board of Education held a special board meeting Monday evening to discuss the topic.
The board voted 5-2 in favor of adjusting mitigations to no longer require masks for its students, staff and visitors.
The district will continue quarantining close contacts and weekly testing of non-vaccinated employees.
The new policy went into effect immediately. Masks will still be required on bus rides in accordance with federal law, the district said.
Barrington School District 220 said on Sunday that they would no longer require masks for all students and staff.
Barrington District 220 Superintendent of Schools Robert Hunt said the district would also not be contact tracing or excluding close contacts from the classroom.
“I want to stress the importance of treating everyone with respect and kindness during this time as our students and staff make individual choices regarding masking. We need to continue to work together as a school and community as we move forward,” Hunt said.
School District 214, which includes Buffalo Grove High School, said they would following the judge’s ruling in the Austin v. Pritzker lawsuit and no longer require masks in their schools.
Close contacts of students and staff will not need to continue to quarantine unless directed to by the local health department, the district said.
“As a result of the judge’s ruling, we will also no longer be collecting weekly tests for unvaccinated staff and those students in the COVID-19 test to stay program,” the district added.
Matthew L. Montgomery, who is the superintendent for Lake Forest District 67 and Lake Forest District 115, said the two school districts are fully complying with the court’s ruling.
The two districts are not requiring masks in their schools but will continue to recommend them.
Special accommodations are available for medically-fragile students, Montgomery said. “Please reach out to your student’s case manager, counselor, or building principal if your student falls in 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 while at school, monitor symptoms and be tested if any symptoms appear but will not be subject to exclusion, Montgomery said.
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.
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.
The court’s ruling allows schools that were not named in the lawsuit to decide themselves on what COVID-19 measures they implement.