UPDATE: 3 area school districts among latest to ease mask mandate
PEORIA (25 NEWS) - Three area school districts are rescinding mask mandates even though they are not part of the lawsuit against Gov. Pritzker’s COVID-19 directives.
School boards for Farmington Central Community Unit School District 265, Fieldcrest Community Unit School District 6, and Princeville Community Unit School District 326 met Tuesday in the wake of a Sangamon County judge’s temporary restraining order preventing the state from enforcing the mandates.
Farmington’s board voted 6-1 with Kay Faralli the only no vote to adopt the “Return to School” plan in which the district recommends, but does not require, masks when people are closer than three feet for more than 15 minutes.
Farmington students are still required to wear face coverings on school buses, and they may have to wear them during some extra-curricular activities and other school events.
In Fieldcrest, the superintendent and board president released a statement saying last Friday’s court ruling puts all schools in “legal limbo,” but it’s clear the schools’ ability to enforce the state mandates is “virtually impossible.”
“We feel we have no choice but to ‘pause’ enforcing masking and close contact/exclusions of asymptomatic individuals as we await the conclusion of the appeal process,” Fieldcrest’s statement said.
Because there are students and staff who are immunocompromised, “we strongly recommend that all students and staff continue to wear masks while inside the school until we have further direction from the state government agencies or court rulings.”
Fieldcrest leaders said the situation has become a distraction for students, staff, and administrators.
“Please discuss kindness, empathy, and compassion with your child in relation to respecting everyone’s needs and choices,” the statement said.
Fieldcrest is a consolidated district covering communities including Minonk, Dana, Rutland, LaRose, Toluca, and Wenona.
In a statement released late Friday night, Princeville school leaders said the district’s board moved to a “masks recommended” strategy.
“Therefore, students and staff have the option to wear masks while at school beginning Wednesday, February 9th,” the district said.
Masks will remain mandatory at daycare and on district buses, vans, and driver’s education vehicles.
Like Fieldcrest, school leaders in Princeville noted the divisiveness that has accompanied the mask-wearing debate.
“It is going to be very important that we all respect those who choose to wear a mask and those who choose not to wear a mask,” the district’s statement said.
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