Illinois School Mask Mandate Blocked by Judge's Ruling. Now What's Next?

The state of Illinois announced it will appeal the decision, with Pritzker late Friday calling the ruling "misguided."

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Illinois schools were scrambling to react after a ruling by a downstate judge Friday placed a temporary restraining order on Gov. J.B. Pritzker's statewide mask mandate in school buildings.

Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Raylene Grischow declared Pritzker's emergency rules for COVID-19 mitigations in schools "null and void" as she issued the order in a lawsuit brought by hundreds of parents in more than 145 school districts across the state.

"Statutory rights have attempted to be bypassed through the issuance of executive orders and emergency rules," she stated in the 29-page ruling. "This type of evil is exactly what the law was intended to constrain.”

Now that the judge has made her widely-anticipated ruling, what are the next steps?

The state of Illinois announced it will appeal the decision, with Pritzker late Friday calling the ruling "misguided."

More than 700 parents represented by Attorney Thomas DeVore initially filed suit late last year, alleging the governor's mask order in schools denies students due process.

They say enforcement isn't the governor's call.

"The answer is for the legislature to step forth and to craft any short-term resolutions that may be necessary," DeVore said.

Prior to the ruling, NBC 5 talked to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, about the state of COVID-19 in Illinois.

When it comes to relaxing mitigations in schools, Fauci said, "We're not there yet."

As Chicago and Illinois' COVID-19 metrics plummet, the doctor leading America's war against the virus sees signs for hope. Dr. Anthony Fauci shared his message for Illinois residents in an exclusive interview NBC 5’s Phil Rogers.

The judge's decision covers districts across the state but not Chicago Public Schools.

According to the ruling, collectively-bargained agreements remain enforceable, like the one between CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union.

"...We expect the mayor and CPS to act responsibly and uphold our agreement to require masks — providing KN95 masks for every adult and child in our schools," CTU said in a statement. "This is what the overwhelming majority of Chicago parents and families support."

CPS leaders said Saturday that they're confident masking and vaccination have been key parts of keeping the virus low, and they will "stay the course."

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