Despite court order, Illinois governor continues mandating masks in schools

Masks mandates for most indoor activities in Illinois will be lifted Feb. 28, but not for schools.

Updated: February 9, 2022 - 11:33pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Masks mandates for most indoor activities in Illinois will be lifted Feb. 28. Gov. J.B. Pritzker is keeping his mandate for masks in schools in place, despite a judge ruling the policy null and void.

Pritkzer Thursday announced a modification to his mask mandate during a news conference in Chicago. With declining COVID-19 hospitalizations, at most indoor settings masks won’t be mandated after Feb. 28. The governor said local governments and businesses can still require masks.

Pritzker is taking a different approach with schools.

“Schools need a little more time for community infection rates to drop, for our youngest learners to become vaccine eligible, and for more parents to get their kids vaccinated,” Pritzker said.

The governor didn’t provide specifics on what would trigger the lifting of his mandate for schools.

“In the coming weeks, it’s my hope and expectation that we will continue to make progress to a place where we can remove school masking requirements and keep kids in schools,” Pritzker said.

State Rep. Blaine Wilhour, R-Beecher City, criticized the governor’s move to drop the mandate for practically everything except schools.

“The governor has different mitigation standards for kids in a classroom than he does somebody going to a bar or a casino or anything else,” Wilhour said during a news conference in Springfield.

Pritzker’s mandate for schools was deemed null and void by a circuit court judge Friday. He’s appealed that temporary restraining order.

“It was an extremely bad decision by this judge,” Pritzker said. “It’s poorly written, it was poorly decided,” Pritzker said.

State Rep. Adam Niemerg, R-Dieterich, said the governor seems to have a double standard.

“I think it’s massively hypocritical, the governor to talk about one person making a decision when he’s been a one-man rule for the last 20 months,” Neimerg said.

The Republican minority at the statehouse has been critical of the governor’s unilateral management of the pandemic for the past two years. Messages seeking comment from Democratic legislative leaders about their lack of action to provide a check on the governor’s unilateral order have not been returned.

Aside from schools still required to mandate masks, the Pritzker administration says after Feb. 28, masks will still be required in:

Healthcare SettingsLong Term Care FacilitiesCongregate Settings (prisons, shelters, etc.)Public transportationDaycare