Illinois governor to end school mask mandate on Monday

Associated Press
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker during a COVID-19 news conference in the early days of the pandemic in 2020. Associated Press
Associated Press
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker during a COVID-19 news conference in the early days of the pandemic in 2020. Associated Press

Illinois governor to end school mask mandate on Monday

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Illinois will end its mask mandate for schools starting next week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Friday night.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is no longer urging people to wear masks in most indoor settings, including schools, where COVID-19 poses a “low” or “medium” risk to the general public and the local health care system. That covers more than three-quarters of Illinois counties currently.

Pritzker announced on Twitter that he would lift the state mandate effective Monday. The vast majority of school districts in Illinois already went mask optional this month. Chicago Public Schools still require masks.

This development came after the Illinois Supreme Court Friday evening denied the governor’s latest appeal seeking to overturn a Feb. 4 ruling by a Springfield judge temporarily halting the state’s school mask mandate. But the justices also vacated the lower court judge’s original ruling, preserving the governor’s authority to issue another mask mandate for school settings if the pandemic worsens.

Pritzker had appealed a temporary restraining order issued by Sangamon County Circuit judge Raylene Grischow against scores of Illinois school districts, but the appellate court dismissed the appeal. The court found that because rules requiring masking and other COVID-19 protocols had been allowed to expire, the appeal was moot. The governor then appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court.