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Daily Journal
     August 20, 2021      #61-232 KDJ
 

EDITORIAL: Mask fight isn't with the school

Daily Journal Editorial Board

First things first. We aren’t here to weigh in on whether students should be required to wear masks in school this year. We don’t know who is ultimately right in that hotly contested debate.

But, we do know who gets to decide the answer — and it’s not the school district. It’s also not the local school board. It’s the state. Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration has mandated the wearing of masks in school. That’s where the buck stops.

Despite that fact, though, school boards and administrations are facing a barrage of complaints about adopting mask policies.

Mask opponents are attending school board meetings and calling the school offices to voice their displeasure with the decision to require masks. Bradley Elementary School Board President Terrie Golwitzer said at this week’s meeting that they’re hearing repeatedly from opponents that the mandate is not a law and the school doesn’t have to follow it. “You need to stand up,” she said they’ve been told.

But, Golwitzer says they’re wrong. And she’s right.

In an Aug. 11 letter to superintendents, State Superintendent Carmen Ayala said the same thing. In that letter, she confirmed that the executive order “has the force of law.” She took it a step further and said non-compliant districts face the threat of “total loss of access to state funding and loss of the school’s ability to engage in any Illinois High School Association and Illinois Elementary School Association athletic competitions.”

So, if you don’t want your kids to wear masks to school this year and want the mandate challenged, that’s perfectly fine. Have at it, we say. But, this is a state mandate, so take your fight to the state. Let’s give the school boards a break; they’re just following the rules.

Contact your state senator or representative and ask that they get after Gov. Pritzker to change the mandate. Or, contact the governor’s office directly.

Again, we aren’t saying we are pro or anti-mask, as we can see where each side is coming from. We’re just saying you’re barking up the wrong tree.

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