SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Governor JB Pritzker signed a bill Tuesday lowering the number of hours required for state educational support staff to qualify for Family Medical Leave. But there is other state educational news making headlines — specifically, Pritzker’s mask mandate for schools.
A downstate attorney with a history of suing the governor, says Pritzker does not have the authority to enforce a mask mandate on schools. Thomas DeVore is suing the governor and the Illinois State Board of Education director on behalf of an Illinois parent.
The lawsuit alleges Pritzker is improperly citing the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act for his emergency orders. It also states Pritzker cannot order a school mask mandate unless the Illinois State Board of Education approves it.
Meantime, the governor is sticking to the order which he says the state has the authority to enforce.
The dust-up comes as the Delta variant surges, threatening younger people and even in some instances school-aged children.
“Every lawsuit he’s filed has failed. Mandatory masks in schools, that’s something that we’ve had before. Certainly we are still in an emergency. We can all see that the Delta variant is beginning to overtake parts of the country. ICU beds are now full in a number of states. As you know just because it’s happening in a number of other states does not mean that it’s not coming to Illinois. We see our cases numbers going up, our hospitalizations going up,” Pritzker said.
If a student shows up without a mask, Pritzker says he hopes the schools would enforce the rules just like they enforce a dress code.