Dear District 57 Families,
I am writing to update you on where things stand with the school district lawsuit and to answer questions that have been raised since my message on Sunday
What’s Happening Now
As you know, District 57 was named as a defendant in two lawsuits that challenge masking and other COVID-19 mitigations. As a result of the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that was issued last Friday, we are currently not requiring face masks at school, but we continue to strongly recommend them. We have also eliminated contact tracing, and we are no longer excluding close contacts. I want to stress that we feel these mitigations were playing an important role in limiting the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and, thus, enabling us to safely sustain uninterrupted in-person learning. We are concerned about the impact of the court decision. We are, however, encouraged that we can continue to prioritize social distancing of 3-6 feet and enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols in our buildings. It is also important to note that many staff members and students continue to wear masks.
We are aware there are District families who do not agree with any efforts to resume masking. This is a sensitive issue and an emotional time for our community. To that end, we are emphasizing to our students that the decision about whether or not to mask is a family decision at this time, and we expect that students be respectful and kind to each other. We are committed to listening, modeling tolerance, and treating everyone with respect. Please join us in this, and remember that we are all working together toward the common goal of supporting children.
The Appeal and Expected Timeline
As you have probably read or seen in the news, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office has filed an appeal and is seeking a stay of the TRO.
- Based on state rules for these types of appeals, we expect a decision may be issued sometime within the next week. When the Appellate Court issues its decision, it is expected to apply to all school districts in the state. Gov. Pritzker announced this week that he is lifting the mask mandate for indoor public places on Feb. 28, but this does not apply to schools. His administration is still seeking to overturn the court ruling so that masks can continue to be required in schools in the coming weeks.
- We are told the Appellate decision will either be to set the TRO aside, meaning we will return to required masking and other mitigations, or to keep it in place until further hearings or a decision from the Circuit Court.
I want to thank our school administrators and staff for their flexibility and professionalism this week. Those who are on the front lines in our schools have been through a lot throughout the pandemic, and for many of them, this is one of the more difficult situations they have faced. But they have shown up and have given their all for their students, just as they always do. They are deeply committed to educating and supporting students no matter what is happening around them. For that, we all owe them a debt of gratitude. I ask you to please be supportive of the administrators, teachers, and staff in your child’s school.
I also thank District 57 families for being there for your children and helping them see that they are cared for and supported. As I said on Sunday, the last couple years have demonstrated we can get through adversity together – and we will do it again. I will be in touch as soon as we have new information to share. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out to your principal if you have questions or concerns in your school.
District 57 Parent Technology Presentation
If you couldn’t attend the District 57 Parent Technology Zoom Presentation yesterday evening, you can view it by clicking here
Thank you for your partnership and have a wonderful weekend.
In the spirit of education,
Dr. Mary Gorr,
Superintendent of Schools, Mount Prospect District 57