February 6, 2022
Dear District #7 families,
We are looking forward to welcoming students back to school tomorrow! After the three snow days last week, the end of the school year now will be a half-day of student attendance on Thursday, May 26, 2022.
As you may know, on Friday, January 4, 2022, Judge Grischow issued a ruling which granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) in the lawsuits in which Edwardsville was a defendant. After consulting with district legal counsel, Judge Grischow’s ruling means that for the families and staff named as plaintiffs in the litigation, Governor Pritzker’s mask mandate in schools has been overturned and close contacts to a positive case will no longer be excluded. The ruling does not apply to all students at this time. An appeal related to this case has already been filed, and future decisions will likely have an impact on the District #7 community.
As a public school district, we have an obligation to protect the health, safety, and learning of every single student and staff member. While we believe in the importance of choice and parents making choices for their children, we also must trust in the information we are being provided by health experts and have an obligation to follow the guidance we are receiving to provide our students and staff with an environment in which they feel safe and can learn, grow, and thrive.
As a result, District #7 will be taking the following steps beginning on Monday, February 7:
- The individuals named as plaintiffs in the litigation will be able to attend school unmasked and will not be excluded as close contacts. Each of the individuals/families will receive correspondence from their building principal prior to the start of school on Monday.
- Masks will continue to be required for all students and staff unless an individual has been impacted by court ruling or has an approved medical exemption for masking.
- Beginning immediately, we have secured KN95 masks for any staff member who wishes to have one.
- Masking will continue to be required during Kid Zone (not for named plaintiffs), at athletic events (not for named plaintiffs), and on buses. The federal law still requires masks on buses. The court decision does not change this, and all students who ride buses will still be required to wear masks.
- We will continue to implement other mitigating strategies in all our schools, including opportunities for vaccinations, social distancing to the greatest extent possible, district-wide testing, incorporating fresh air into the school environment, and cleaning and sanitizing on a regular basis.
Students refusing to wear a mask constitutes a rule violation and subjects the student to disciplinary action, just like any other school rule violation.
When students arrive at school without a mask, District #7 procedures will continue to include providing students an opportunity to comply with the mask rule. If the student refuses to voluntarily comply with wearing a mask, the student will be directed to the media center while school administrators contact the student’s parents/guardians to pick up their child from school. Students are never isolated and are under the supervision of staff at all times.
Our goal is to provide a safe learning environment for students and staff in District #7 and to be able to sustain that learning environment five days a week throughout the school year. We care about each member of the District #7 community – our students, our staff, and our families – and we know that we can support each other as we navigate this ever-changing landscape.
Patrick Shelton, Ed.D.