Several central Illinois school districts change COVID-19 rules following judge’s ruling

Published: Feb. 6, 2022 at 8:26 PM CST
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(25 NEWS) - Several central Illinois school districts have changed their COVID-19 rules following a Friday judge’s ruling that suspends state enforcement of masking and testing requirements.

- Metamora Township High School sent a message out to parents saying it will move to a mask-optional format starting Monday.

In a statement, superintendent and principal Sean O’Laughlin said, “throughout the pandemic, MTHS strove to protect our students, staff, and their families to the best of our ability. We followed the law and legal guidance to the best of our ability. We prioritized in-person learning and the continuance of extra-curricular activities. The MTHS community has done an exceptional job navigating these difficult years with civility and patience. I ask for your continued patience as we navigate what I hope is the end of the pandemic.”

- Morton Community Unit District #709 superintendent Jeffrey Hill sent a message to parents containing several bullet points. The message stated, “Masks are optional for all students and employees ... We will revisit household close contact quarantines at Tuesday’s School Board meeting ... The employee testing program will be suspended until further notice ... Masking on buses is a federal guideline and will continue. This will be discussed at our Tuesday Board Meeting, as well ... Enforcement will continue in regard to our policy of sending students with cold or flu symptoms home until those symptoms are no longer present.”

- El Paso Gridley CUSD #11 posted on Facebook Saturday, stating, “masking will be recommended, but not required at EPG schools” starting Monday.

- Prairie Central CUSD #8 posted on Facebook Sunday, stating, “masks are recommended, but not mandatory, for all students and staff. We continue to encourage and support masking for any individual who wishes to do so.

The district added, “While students who are ill will still need to quarantine, those students who are deemed close contacts will not. In the interest of keeping students and staff safe, we will ask that parents are diligent in keeping their children home when they are not feeling well.”

- Brimfield CUSD #309 superintendent Tony Shinall posted a statement to the district’s website Saturday, telling families, “At this time, we are in the process of reviewing the judge’s decision and will communicate with you as soon as possible whether this ruling impacts Brimfield CUSD #309 students and staff members.”

- Limestone Community High School District #310 superintendent Allan Gresham posted a statement on the district’s website Sunday, saying, “while the district encourages the use of masks and COVID-19 testing, it will not exclude students or staff who choose either not to wear a mask or be tested. We appreciate your continued support as we navigate the changes to COVID-19 guidance in addition to the ever-changing legal situation.”

- Riverview Grade School CCSD #2 posted a statement on its website Sunday, saying, “Riverview Grade School will continue to encourage the use of face coverings but will allow parents to make that decision for their individual students, as well as the staff. The Board and administration have and will continue to advocate for local control in relation to mitigations and protocols.”

The statement added, “per the court ruling, we will not exclude an asymptomatic student who was a close contact. That decision will be up to the discretion of the local health department and parents.”

- Elmwood CSD #322 sent a statement to families Sunday that read, “Elmwood #322 will be in a mask recommended, but not required status for all students and staff ... Elmwood #322 will not be contact tracing or excluding close contacts ... Students and staff that test positive will be excluded from school.”

- Dunlap CUSD #323 posted a statement Sunday that read, “while the district encourages the use of masks and COVID-19 testing, it will not exclude students or staff who choose either not to wear a mask or be tested. In addition, per the TRO, the District will not exclude teachers and students based on alleged close contact unless due process is afforded and IDPH procedures are followed.”

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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