(The Center Square) – The state has put 51 school districts on probation for not following Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s mask mandate.
On Aug. 4, Pritzker announced a mask mandate for schools across the state. Schools that do not comply can be put on probation.
The order came amid growing debate over mask use in schools as states and school districts deal with an increase in COVID-19 cases and the spread of the delta variant.
Since the executive ordered was issued, 51 school districts across the state have been put on probation. Punishments can include loss of recognition by the state board of education and losing the ability to compete in athletics, Illinois High School Association Associate Director Kurt Gibson.
“If a school district doesn’t comply, they can lose their recognition status,” Gibson said. “If that happens, diplomas issued by the school district would not be recognized by the state board.”
Schools are also prohibited from competing in athletics if they don’t comply with the mandate. Gibson said a school that is not recognized by the state cannot compete against schools that are recognized.
“If a school loses its recognition from the ISBE, then they would also lose recognition from the IHSA and the IESA and would not be able to compete in any state athletics,” Gibson said.
The Illinois State Board of Education will reach out to districts that are not adhering to the mandate requirement. Schools will have 60 days after the meeting to submit a corrective plan to the regional superintendent of schools and state superintendent.
Gibson said he expects school districts to comply because of the consequences.
“I am confident that each school district will find a solution,” Gibson said. “Schools will recognize that to loose recognition status would be a significantly negative outcome.”