CHICAGO (CBS) — The Illinois Supreme Court has denied Gov. JB Pritzker’s bid to reinstate a statewide COVID-19 mask mandate in schools.
The state Supreme Court decision comes after a ruling by the Illinois Appellate Court that also denied an appeal by Gov. Pritzker as he sought to reinstate the mask mandate.
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The statewide mandate was called into question by temporary restraining order issued by a judge in downstate Sangamon County earlier this month.
On Feb. 7, Sangamon County Judge Raylene Grischow issued a temporary restraining order that questioned the governor’s legal authority to require masks in schools and halted the mask mandate. The Supreme Court order vacated the temporary restraining order while also denying the governor’s appeal.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker issued a statement announcing that the State of Illinois will be removing its school mask mandate beginning Monday anyway – given that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has now recommended masks are needed only in areas of high transmission.
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Pritzker also said in the statement that he was “gratified” that the Supreme Court also vacated the lower court’s restraining order in its ruling – meaning that if a mask mandate is needed again in the future, the Governor’s office will continue to have that authority.
The lower court ruling quickly left parents divided in districts across the state, as many have demanded schools go mask-optional.
Some districts – including the Chicago Public Schools – have continued to require masks for all students and staff, while others have done away with masking rules.
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The Chicago Teachers Union said it would not be making an official statement about the state Supreme Court decision, though sources said CPS plans to keep its mandate in effect and to change it would require new bargaining with the union. CPS did not immediately issue a comment Friday night.