Masks and other mandates to remain in place at Lansing public schools

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TF South students show off T-shirts given away to vaccinated students. (Photo provided)

Mask, quarantine, and staff vaccination protocols will continue at Lansing public schools despite Sangamon County decision

By Josh Bootsma

LANSING, Ill. (February 7, 2022) – In response to a recent decision by a Sangamon County judge that restrained the State’s ability to enforce mask, quarantine, and vaccination mandates in some schools, Lansing’s three public school districts have reaffirmed their commitment to their current protocols for in-person learning.

High school

District 215 Superintendent Dr. Sophia Jones-Redmond said in a letter to the D215 community on Sunday that its ongoing protocols on masking, quarantining, and vaccination were implemented under the “independent authority of the Board of Education.”

The letter said, “In its Policy #4:182, the Board has already committed the district to adherence, not only to the IDPH guidelines, but also those of the United States Centers for Disease Control and the Cook County Department of Public Health. Those guidelines are still in effect, and so are our District’s protocols.”

The letter also stated that because District 215 was not one of the nearly 170 school districts that were a party to the lawsuit that brought about the ruling, D215 is not subject to the temporary restraining order on the COVID-related policies.

“Regardless of the status of the State-imposed health and safety mandates as the litigation in Sangamon County proceeds, the Administration of District 215 will continue to enforce our existing health and safety protocols as they relate to COVID-19. The safety of all persons in the Thornton Fractional High School community is our highest priority,” said Jones-Redmond’s letter.

Elementary and middle school

In a letter to the District 158 community, Superintendent Dr. Nathan Schilling said, “[The Sangamon County decision] prohibits these districts from requiring students and staff from wearing face masks in their schools. However, this litigation is not a class action lawsuit and Lansing School District 158 is not a party to this litigation.”

Schilling said that masking guidelines, as well as those for vaccination (staff must be vaccinated or test weekly for COVID-19), will remain in place.

“Safety continues to be our highest priority as the pandemic, and new variants of the disease, remain a concern,” the letter said.

Sunnybrook District 171 Superintendent Dr. Erika Millhouse-Pettis shared a similar message, telling The Lansing Journal, “At this time Sunnybrook SD 171 will not be making any changes.”

Millhouse-Pettis told the 171 community in a letter, “As the litigation proceeds, we will be reviewing our safety procedures. But until then, we ask that all students, parents, staff, and visitors continue to abide by the rules we have set in place for the safety of all.”

State appeal

According to a press release from the Governor’s Office on Monday morning, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office will pursue an immediate appeal of the Sangamon County decision.

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