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Monday, July 4, 2022

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Gov. Pritzker preemptively sues to require face masks

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, and State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen Ayala have filed a preemptive against three Illinois school districts to require face masks.

“As a father, I would not send my children to a school where face coverings are not required because the science is clear: face coverings are critical to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” Pritzker said in a prepared statement.

The defendants, Board of Education Hutsonville CHSD #1, Families of Faith Christian Academy, and Parkview Christian Academy, Inc. are represented by Thomas DeVore. DeVore provided an alleged letter to Dr. Ezike and Dr. Ayala on behalf of each of the schools, saying the guidance is unlawful and the executive order, issued without legal authority.

Executive Orders 2020-40 and 2020-44 allow schools in Illinois to resume in-person instruction subject to the public health measures issued by IDPH and ISBE.

Each of the schools reportedly wrote letters to the state board last month citing a nearly 100-year-old case that the government cannot make rules “which merely have a tendency to prevent” the spread of infectious diseases, particularly if “arbitrary and unreasonable.”

The letter also stated the schools will decide what, if any health guidance they will choose to follow for the upcoming year.

DeVore, of Greenville, filed other pandemic-related shutdown suits to date, including a recent lawsuit against the Illinois High School Association.

The Governor and Co. claim the schools are refusing to follow the Governor’s executive orders, which outline guideline measures and seeks declaratory and injunctive relief against school systems. The schools are stretched across three Illinois counties that have announced their refusal to follow Executive Orders requiring the schools to resume in-person instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic, including Families of Faith Christian Academy in Channahon.

Other schools listed in the suit include Hutsonville Community Unit School District No. 1 and Parkview Christian Academy Inc in Yorkville.

School districts across Illinois released guidelines for returning to school this fall this week. Health and safety measures included wearing masks, keeping socially distance when able, along with other measures recommended by health experts.

Details on schools:

  • During the 2018-2019 school year, the Hutsonville School District enrolled approximately 313 students in its high school, middle school, elementary school, and PreK school, while employing approximately 31 teachers and additional staff.
  • Christian Child Development Corporation, doing business as Families of Faith Christian Academy, is an Illinois not-for-profit corporation providing private education to students in daycare, pre-school, and kindergarten through high school in Channahon, Illinois.
  • Parkview Christian Academy, Inc., is an Illinois not-for-profit corporation providing private education to students in pre-school through high school in Yorkville, Illinois. Parkview Christian Academy currently has approximately 363 students enrolled from 196 families and 39 teachers.

On Thursday, over 1,200 new cases of COVID-19 were announced by the Illinois Department of Public Health. So far in Illinois, the pandemic has claimed 7,251 lives and infected 157,950 across all 102 counties in the State. According to Johns Hopkins University, 97,214 of those have been located in Cook County.

The action filed late Thursday in Sangamon County Circuit Court by the state attorney general.

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