News & Politics

IL Governor Pritzker Renegs on Promise to Give School Districts Control Over COVID Policy

Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP, Pool

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker promised Illinois parents on July 17 “Families should be involved in making decisions for their own families. And, school districts and school boards will make decisions for the schools within their districts.”

In accordance with that policy, school districts across the state voted on what measures their schools would implement to keep their children safe.

But Pritzker has now reneged on his policy of allowing local control after he initiated another mask mandate and other anti-pandemic measures. And he’s enforcing those mandates with a heavy stick. He sent an ultimatum to 58 school districts that were refusing his mask and vaccine orders threatening them by warning they could forfeit state recognition, funding, sports participation, and the college prospects of seniors.

Not exactly the “local control” everyone was hoping for.

Illinois Policy:

The Illinois State Board of Education sent ultimatums to 58 schools or districts. Timothy Christian middle and high schools complied with the state’s demands and are again recognized. Of the other 56 school districts, five are currently unrecognized by the state, 15 voted to comply and are reinstated, and the rest remain on probation.

Pritzker initially told Illinoisans he thought masking and other COVID-19 protocols should be a local decision, left to local school leaders being advised by local health departments.

The reason for Pritzker’s draconian measures is that people aren’t doing what they’re told.

“Far too few school districts have chosen to follow the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prescription for keeping students and staff safe,” Pritzker said. “Given the CDC’s strong recommendation, I had hoped that a state mask requirement in schools wouldn’t be necessary, but it is.”

Pritzker’s “no exception” vaccine policy is for all education workers from prekindergarten through college as well as for state college students. Failure to get vaccinated will subject the offender to weekly tests.

This is why we will likely never see “normal” again.

“The executive order has the force of law,” Illinois Superintendent of Education Carmen Ayala said. “I understand the pressure some school and district leaders may be facing from community members, and I will provide you with every support to understand, communicate and comply with the order. However, noncompliance is not an option. I will not compromise the health and safety of students or staff, nor will I risk even one child’s life.” (author’s emphasis)

Children take a risk crossing the street to get to the school. They take a risk every time they get in an automobile. The idea that we should be building a society where there is zero risk for every child is positively insane.

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School districts don’t have much of a choice in the matter. Realistically, neither do parents. They can defy the mandate at the risk of having their child sent home which would not be a favorable outcome for the child.

Pritzker is already running for re-election, using his pandemic response as a launching pad. He’s “following the science,” he says in his latest campaign commercial. Which science from what time period? Is he talking about the science from last year that told us it was not necessary to wear masks? Or is it the science from this year that questions everything we’ve been doing to combat the coronavirus?

It’s certainly not the same “science” that other nations are following for their children. But don’t expect Pritzker to explain. He only demands we obey.