Illinois to Appeal Restraining Order Issued in School Mask Mandate Suit, Pritzker Says

Attorney General Kwame Raoul will appeal the decision in the Illinois Appellate Court for the 4th District.

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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday asked that the state Attorney General's office immediately appeal a decision by a downstate judge to implement a restraining order barring schools from enforcing mask mandates, school exclusion protocols and COVID-19 testing requirements.

The governor's office issued a news release in which he referred to Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Raylene Grischow's decision as "misguided," saying schools may be forced to go remote if they don't have proper tools to keep students and staff safe.

Earlier on Friday, Grischow granted a temporary restraining order in a lawsuit filed against Pritzker, the Illinois State Board of Education and more than 140 school districts by parents who argued there was no due process regarding Illinois' mask order in schools.

The ruling states defendants are temporarily restrained from ordering school districts to require masks for students and teachers - unless a quarantine order is issued by a local health department.

School districts, the ISBE and Pritzker are also barred from requiring unvaccinated individuals who work in Illinois schools to provide weekly negative results of a COVID-19 test or be vaccinated to enter a school building.

Additionally, school districts can't refuse admittance to teachers and students deemed a "close contact" of a probable COVID-19 case without due process of law, court documents stated.

Attorney General Kwame Raoul said that he's committed to defending Pritzker's actions to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and will appeal the decision in the Illinois Appellate Court for the 4th District.

The decision, he stated, is "is wrong on the law" and "demonstrates a misunderstanding of Illinois emergency injunction proceedings."

"It prioritizes a relatively small group of plaintiffs who refuse to follow widely-accepted science over the rights of other students, faculty and staff to enter schools without the fear of contracting a virus that has claimed the lives of more than 31,000 Illinois residents – or taking that virus home to their loved ones.”

It remains unclear if the ruling applies to all students who attend districts mentioned in the lawsuit or just students involved in the legal battle.

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