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Area schools react to mask decision

CHRISTIAN COUNTY — Several Christian County school districts have reacted to the decision of a Sangamon County Circuit Court judge to overturn the mask mandate for Illinois schools last week. Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker, along with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPA) and the Illinois

Department of Education (IDE) had invoked a mask wearing mandate for Illinois school children which has been in effect off and on for the last two years.

Ben Theilen, Superintendent of the Edinburg School District, announced Monday that his district was not a part of the lawsuit against the state

and currently had not plans to change their current policy.

“However, we do have a board meeting on Wednesday night, and tweaks could come about at that time.” Theilen added.

Chris Clark, Superintendent of the South Fork School District in Kincaid, stated Monday their schools were

not named directly as a part of the lawsuit. He also shared the following press release that had been sent out to families in the community on Monday afternoon after press time:

“First off, we thank you for your patience and support of the district over the last few days. The recent judgment had many moving parts and

affected different populations of the school environment. The district values the input from all stakeholders. We wanted to hear what our people had to say before making any snap decision.

Now that we have had time to review the recent judgment, we at South Fork will be reverting to our original Full Return to In-Person Learning Plan that was board-approved on August 18, 2021.

The district plan outlines a mask use approach that is phased-based. We will start in phase I, where mask use is recommended indoors for students, staff, and visitors regardless of vaccination. The Full In-Person Learning Plan can be found on the district webpage.

From the beginning, the district favored offering the optional mask approach. State mandates did not allow for the district to follow this path.

The district plan will continue to be utilized until the state gives further guidance and the appellate court overturns the most recent judgment.

Also, remember the plan does call for a phased approach. So, if transmission rates increase, the district will move through the phases, and more mitigations will be implemented. The district will also continue to utilize prescreening as a safety measure as people enter the school or a school bus.

Lastly, this judgment does not change the mask mandate on Passengers and drivers on school transportation. Therefore, all students riding the bus will be required to wear a mask.

In closing, we appreciate your patience as we managed our way through these rough waters. It is hard to figure out what is the right thing to do in these times. So many people have so many different opinions. Learning to respect others’ beliefs, represent your beliefs, and be kind are values all can take away from this experience. We at South Fork are here to help all members of our family find success in whatever path they may choose.”

E-mail inquiries by the Breeze-Courier to the Pana and Morrisonville school districts were not answered by presstime today.

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