School administrator says Illinois mask mandate creates ‘untenable and unsustainable’ pressure on staff

STILLMAN VALLEY, Ill. (WTVO) – Gov. JB Pritzker’s mask mandate for students and school staff has created “unsustainable and unsustainable” pressure on school boards across the state, according to the Superintendent of the School District of Meridian, PJ Caposey, leaving them in the position of enforcing a rule with which many parents disagree.

Caposey wrote an open letter to Pritzker on Wednesday, saying the school district and many others across this state plan to reopen schools with a mask-optional policy, according to a community survey.

“On August 4, after nearly four weeks of planning in local communities, the clear right to local control was removed with the public release of COVID Presidential Executive Order No. 85,” Caposey wrote. “I must share with you what has happened since your order has (arguably) forced literally thousands of volunteer school board members and superintendents across the state to act in a way that they are personally disagree in order to comply with the order.”

Pritzker issued the order following updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that recommended all Americans, regardless of their vaccination status, wear face masks indoors to stop the spread of the virus. more contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, which is causing a spike in cases and hospitalizations among unvaccinated and immunocompromised people.

Caposey went on to say that when the order was issued, school districts reached out to their insurers and attorneys to get their perspective on the liability and litigation issues surrounding the order’s challenge to eavesdrop. concerns of local parents and teachers.

Based on their recommendations, Caposey said the Meridian School District decided to follow the governor’s rule, which “led to contentious board meetings, the erosion of community trust and at levels of community struggles that are arguably unprecedented,” he said.

“I have received more emails and text messages from superintendents and board members considering resignation this week than in the past nine years,” Caposey wrote.

Durand schools announced this week that they will not follow the governor’s mandate and will recommend but not require the wearing of masks in class.

Caposey went on to ask the governor to “provide a clear and declarative statement of what will happen to any district that chooses to exercise local control and manage its districts as it sees fit,” saying that without a statement of consequences, some districts will openly defy the mandate.

“This puts untenable pressure on the hundreds of other districts trying to follow your guidelines. This is advocacy. The pressure is untenable and unsustainable,” Caposey said.

Illinois State Board of Education State Superintendent Dr. Carmen Ayala issued a statement to school boards Wednesday afternoon, saying, “The executive order has the force of law. I understand the pressure some school and district leaders may experience from members of the community, and I will provide you with all the support you need to understand, communicate, and keep order.

“However, non-compliance is not an option,” Ayala continued. “I will not compromise the health and safety of students or staff, and I will not even risk the life of a single child.

“A [non-complying] the district would first have its recognition status changed to “on probation” and would be asked to submit a corrective action plan. Failure to address the shortcomings would lead to non-recognition, which means complete loss of access to state funding and loss of the school’s ability to participate in all athletic competitions in the school. Illinois High School Association and Illinois Elementary School Association.

“These are not steps anyone at ISBE wants to take nor should these steps be necessary. School districts have a moral and legal obligation to follow public health requirements and guidance to ensure safety. of their students and staff,” she continued.

Martha K. Merrill