February 6, 2022
Roanoke-Benson CUSD Parents and Staff,
To date, Roanoke-Benson CUSD #60 has been following Governor Pritzker’s Executive Orders as well as guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Public Health on the issues of masking and COVID-19 close contacts. This includes the requirement that all staff and students wear masks while on school grounds, the requirements regarding exclusion of COVID-19 close contacts from school grounds, and the requirement that unvaccinated staff members test for COVID-19 on a weekly basis. On Friday, February 5, 2022, Judge Raylene Grischow granted a Motion to enter a Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”) against several state entities. Roanoke-Benson CUSD is one of the school districts impacted by the TRO.
We have reviewed the TRO closely with our legal counsel, and believe that the terms of the TRO supersede the Executive Orders and ISBE rules and guidance. Accordingly, beginning Monday, February 7, 2022, we will no longer be enforcing those policies with respect to students and staff attending Roanoke-Benson CUSD 60. That is, we will no longer mandate masks for students and staff, we will no longer exclude non-symptomatic close contacts from school, and we will no longer require testing for unvaccinated staff members as long as the TRO remains in place. The terms of the TRO do not prevent our school district from implementing its own policies requiring masks for students and staff, and/or requiring the exclusion of non-symptomatic close contacts. Such policies may be adopted in the future consistent with the terms of the TRO and Illinois law.
Furthermore, it is important that all families and staff understand that we are not excluding masks. Rather, we are making masks optional. Intimidation and any other form of bullying of students who choose to wear a mask will not be tolerated.
We also caution that this is a very fluid situation that may change by the day. Our understanding is that the State has sought a stay of the TRO and intends to appeal the Court Order to the Fourth District Appellate Court. A Stay may be issued as early as Monday, February 7, 2022, meaning that the District would once again be required to follow the challenged Executive Orders and Rules. Further, we expect a ruling on the substance of the appeal from the Appellate Court by mid-February. The Appellate Court may vacate the TRO, meaning we would again be required to follow the Executive Orders.
The safety of our students and staff remains the highest priority of the Roanoke-Benson CUSD. We will continue to work with the Woodford County Health Department concerning COVID-19 mitigations. We will also continue to follow any Orders issued in this litigation, including Orders issued by the Appellate Court, and we will continue to follow any State laws, rules and regulations that have not otherwise been enjoined from enforcement.
We understand this is a challenging time, and we appreciate your patience and cooperation.
Board of Education, Roanoke-Benson CUSD
Thomas Welsh, Superintendent