Pritzker to end school mask mandate Monday after Supreme Court denies appeal of temporary restraining order

A facemask and gavel.
A facemask and gavel.(Source: Pixabay via MGN)
Published: Feb. 25, 2022 at 6:14 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) - Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s appeal of the school mask mandate temporary restraining order was denied Friday night by the Illinois Supreme Court. Shortly after that news, the governor said students will no longer have to wear masks in schools starting Monday.

The decision came days after the administration asked Attorney General Kwame Raoul to request an expedited review of the case by the Supreme Court. Friday’s order said the petition for leave to appeal the Sangamon County judge’s decision was denied.

“In the exercise of this Court’s supervisory authority, the February 4, 2022, temporary restraining order is vacated,” the order stated.

“I’m gratified that the Supreme Court vacated the lower court’s restraining order, meaning that if a school mask mandate needs to go into effect in the future, we continue to have that authority,” Pritzker said. “I’m also extremely pleased to say that because the CDC has recommended that masks are needed only in areas of high transmission, the State of Illinois will move forward to remove our school mask mandate, effective Monday.”

The administration will encourage school districts to follow the updated CDC guidance and plans to update the statewide guidance in the coming days.

The temporary restraining order blocking more than 145 school districts from enforcing rules for masking, testing, and school exclusion is now found moot, or irrelevant. The higher court also denied the administration’s emergency motion to stay the temporary restraining order, declaring it moot. Supreme Court justices decided to send this case back to the Sangamon County Circuit Court.

“We are pleased the court acted quickly to vacate the TRO, as the state requested,” Raoul stated. “However, as the case is returned to the circuit court, we will continue to defend the governor’s executive orders to protect all Illinois residents and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

Pritzker confirmed Friday that he will lift the statewide indoor mask mandate for most indoor settings on Monday. However, that message initially excluded schools as Pritzker wanted to wait a longer period of time to lift the mandate for students, teachers, and staff.

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