(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed an executive order requiring masks in schools.
The executive order will require all eligible college students and school employees to be vaccinated and re-instituted an indoor mask mandate during school hours.
Nearly 40 public school districts and eight private schools across Illinois were on the Illinois State Board of Education’s non-compliance list, with public schools given a 60-day probation period to comply with the executive order.
Schools that do not adhere to the governor’s mandate will face harsh penalties and probation. The punishment includes schools not being eligible for athletics as well as withholding diplomas from schools.
According to the Illinois High School Association, schools will have up until the playoff deadline for each sport to meet the governor’s requirements, schools that still do not follow the mandate will not be allowed to participate.
State Rep. Mike Marron, R-Danville, said the governor’s mandate this is an overstep of his authority. He said those decisions should have been made by lawmakers or locally-elected school boards.
“As far as schools being placed on probation, the governor is being heavy-handed, threatening, and as always acting like a dictator,” Marron said. “Somebody in the majority party needs to step up and hold the governor accountable.”
Democrats hold veto-proof majorities in both of the state’s legislative chambers.
The rising COVID-19 metrics in the state have prompted some medical associations to recommend masks. Dr. Don Brown, a pediatrician with Northwestern Medicine, also recommends masking and considers it the best possible deterrent other than vaccination. No COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for people younger than 12.
“It is the best thing short of a vaccination,” Brown said. “The most important thing you can do is wear a mask right now.”
Schools that have not followed the mask mandate have 60 days to put together plans for their students to wear masks in order to be taken off the probation list.