A southern Illinois couple has filed a lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Public Health and the State Board of Education, alleging that the state’s plans to reopen schools this fall with safety protocols in place will “result in immediate and irreparable harm” to their three children.
The suit, filed in Clay County by James and Kali Mainer, requests a temporary restraining order that would put a halt to mandatory facial coverings, temperature checks, and limitations on groups of 50 or more individuals.
In the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday, the couple alleges that the IDPH and ISBE “have promulgated unlawful, arbitrary and capricious mandates” that place an “unreasonable burden” on the family’s three children.
The family’s suit says that they have “protectable rights and interests at stake to be free from unlawful, arbitrary and capricious rule making,” and that the rules that state officials have formulated are “unlawful,” since they are only aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus.
Earlier this month, IDPH and the Board of Education issued a series of rules and guidelines for schools, aimed at allowing students to return to classrooms in the fall.
The new guidelines would require students, faculty and staff to wear facial coverings while in school, and would also limit group sizes to under 50 people. Temperature checks would also be required for students and teachers before school each day under the plan.
In a statement issued to media Tuesday, Pritzker’s office defended the administration’s actions, emphasizing that the guidelines have been directed by science throughout the pandemic, and that they will contest the suit.
“From the CDC to the American Academy of Pediatrics, doctors agree that in order to bring large groups of people together, especially indoors, a face covering is a critical tool to stopping the spread (of COVID-19),” the statement read. “ISBE and local school districts worked together to ensure in-person instruction requirements are feasible and will keep students and teachers healthy and safe.
“Implementing requirements that protect students and teachers is also critical for schools to avoid liability. Throughout the pandemic, the courts have repeatedly sided with the public health experts,” it added.
Clay County is the same county where Illinois Rep. Darren Bailey has filed suit against Gov. J.B. Pritzker over the state’s “stay-at-home” order, which was in effect earlier this year. A suit by Bailey against the governor was sent back to Clay County court earlier this week.