Pritzger Fights To Keep MasksBy Rich Rostron
Pritzker fights court to keep masks for students
Governor firmly aligned with teachers unions
SPRINGFIELD: Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that, with the passing of February, his statewide mask mandate will end, as will state-required proof of vaccination to go to a restaurant, see a movie or workout in a gym. But, if Pritzker has his way, students will continue to wear masks.
For the time being, Pritzker's decision to end his COVID-related mandates is superfluous; Sangamon County Judge Raylene DeWitte Grischow has already granted a temporary restraining order after a group sued to end the mask requirements in schools. Pritzker is continuing to fight to keep the mandates for students.
Pritzker said the judge's ruling will cause "chaos for parents, families, teachers and school administrators." He's asking the Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul to go to court to overturn the ruling.
The flurry of legal action comes as cases of COVID are plummeting in the state. Considering that students are in an age group that is not seriously threatened by COVID, Pritzker's singling out schools for continuing the mandates seems, to some, a strange place to wage the battle.
However, the approach isn't so odd when it is remembered how tightly Pritzker is tied to the teachers unions. The teachers unions have pushed hard for mandates and consistently fought against opening the schools.
While Illinois continues to struggle with a heavy-handed governmental approach to the pandemic from the governor's mansion, many other states have opened and dropped mandates already. In Virginia, newly elected Gov. Glen Youngkin was elected, in part, because he took a stand against the continued mandates, particularly in schools.
Once elected, Youngkin passed an executive order making masks optional for students based on the wishes of the students and their parents. But some schools have fought back, ignoring Youngkin's executive order and punishing students who dare to abide by it.
Illinoisans lack the benefit of a governor who supports the rights of parents to decide if their children should or shouldn't continue to 'mask up.' Pritzker is firmly entrenched with the teachers unions and has shown reluctance to let go of emergency powers many feel he has abused from the start of the pandemic.