February 7 Update:
The District had hoped for a decision today regarding the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) from the Sangamon County cases; unfortunately, at this time no update is available. A motion for stay has been filed at the appellate court and we are awaiting action on this motion.
We have received some questions regarding the handling of students who were non-compliant today and the rationale behind allowing them to stay present at school. The district was aware that we would face some non-compliant families due to 301 Facebook posts and emails that were received over the weekend. In preparation, we had notified our staff that it was inevitable that we would see some non-compliance. For the time being, the District made the decision based on various legal factors, that we would not require unmasked students to leave the building and/or their classroom as it remains our goal to do what is best for all students instructionally.
We understand that there are many different viewpoints regarding the district’s layered prevention strategies, including masking, but we have consistently followed the guidance of the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Kane County Health Department in promoting a healthy environment for teaching and learning. It is our desire to continue to make the best decisions possible for the safety and well-being of our students and staff. Therefore, we have not dropped any of our current layered prevention strategies, nor have we allowed wearing masks to be optional. It remains our expectation that all members of the school community continue to follow the mitigation measures we have in place. These measures have allowed us to maintain in-person learning in a healthy and safe environment throughout the school year. It is still our expectation that we “stay the course” and continue with our current mitigation plan, which includes wearing masks while in school.
Despite the challenges of the past two years, we have not wavered in our commitment to provide a quality education to our students and families in the most effective manner possible, which we believe is in-person instruction. Although we may have differing opinions we can all agree that we share a common goal of advocating for children. It is for this reason that we continue to review and work on ways to keep our schools open for in-person learning for all. We appreciate your support as we continue to navigate the pandemic and the ever-changing legal situation. As we await court guidance, we ask for everyone’s patience and compassion for one another.
February 6 Update:
In discussing the recent Temporary Restraining Order by Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Raylene Grischow with our legal counsel, it is our opinion that this Order does not pertain to Central Community Unit School District 301, but rather applies only to the plaintiffs and school districts specifically named in the lawsuit. There is a pending motion before Judge Grischow to Stay the TRO, and if that motion is not granted, it is our understanding the motion will be appealed to a higher court; either of these actions could result in a Stay as early as tomorrow. If the case is accepted on appeal, the appellate court’s ruling would be anticipated by mid-February. Governor Pritzker also issued Executive Order 2022-05 on February 4, extending previously issued executive orders requiring school masks, school exclusion for “close contacts” and vaccination/testing requirements for school employees through March 5, 2022.
Because the judge’s order does not apply to the district and could be stayed as early as tomorrow, the district has decided to “stay the course” and continue with our current mitigation plan while the appeal and stay are still pending. We will continue with our current layered prevention strategies, which include masking as this is in line with the IDPH and Kane County Health Department guidance.
Please note that per federal requirement masking continues to be required on the school bus. This was not an issue before Judge Grischow, who is a state judge. If a student comes to the bus stop without a mask, one will be provided to them. If they refuse to wear the mask they will not be allowed to leave the bus stop.
We appreciate your support and understanding as we continue to navigate the ever-changing guidance and legal implications for our district. It is our desire to continue to make the best decisions possible for the safety and well-being of our students and staff. Decisions such as these require us to take into account a multitude of factors and we continue to evaluate these factors on an ongoing basis. Your patience and cooperation as we navigate this is truly valued.