Jackie Matthews, a spokesperson for the Illinois State Board of Education, said that 30 school districts across the state have been put on probation because they have not announced that they will require masks for all students and faculty members, regardless of vaccination status.
“These districts now have the opportunity to meet with [the board] and to submit a corrective action plan to address the deficiencies that are presenting a danger to students and staff,” she said in a statement, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“School districts that do not submit an approvable plan will lose recognition status, meaning total loss of access to state funding and the inability to participate in IHSA [Illinois High School Association] and IESA [Illinois Elementary School Association] sports.”
Matthews went on to claim that “masking is a safe, easy, and effective way to ensure all students can attend school in-person this fall, where they can learn and grow to their fullest potential.”
However, a group of superintendents and other members of public school districts have vowed to continue opposing the mandate, arguing individual school jurisdictions should have the right to make their own policy, and raising concerns about the developmental challenges that mask-wearing poses to young children.
“We should be able to lessen restrictions based on local factors,” said Curt Nettles, superintendent of Clinton Community Unit School District 15.
The debate over masking has “pitted neighbors and friends against each other,” Nettles added.
Darren Bailey, a state Republican challenging Pritzker for the governorship, encouraged the protesting superintendents to legally challenge Pritzker’s “unenforceable” mandate,
“The governor lacks the authority to mandate this,” he said. “… Stop making empty threats.”