SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) -- A downstate judge has granted a temporary restraining order in favor of a group that sued to end COVID-19 mask mandates in Illinois public school districts.
Sangamon County Judge Raylene DeWitte Grischow's ruling came down at 4:45 p.m. Friday. In addition to finding in favor of those challenging school mask mandates, the ruling also comes out against schools forbidding students and staff from coming into school buildings if they are close contacts of positive COVID-19 cases.
The order does not name specific school districts, but in a footnote, it says the emergency rules on mask mandates and other mitigations for schools issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health are "null and void."
Thus, the ruling said, "Any non-named Plaintiffs and School Districts throughout this State may govern themselves accordingly."
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A total of 144 districts - including many big names around Chicago such as Naperville, Lake Forest, and Hinsdale – were named in the lawsuit in which the order was issued. The suit was intended to strip the state and districts from being able to require masks.
In her ruling, Judge Grischow concluded that the parents who filed the lawsuit have due process rights when it comes to objecting to any COVID-19 mitigations, which a blanket statewide school mask mandate violates.
Following the ruling, Gov. Pritzker's office said the state Attorney General is seeking an expedited appeal from the Fourth District Illinois Appellate Court.
A ruling forbidding masks and other mitigations might jeopardize the ability to keep schools open, according to the governor.
"The grave consequence of this misguided decision is that schools in these districts no longer have sufficient tools to keep students and staff safe while COVID-19 continues to threaten our communities – and this may force schools to go remote," Gov. Pritzker said in the news release. "This shows yet again that the mask mandate and school exclusion protocols are essential tools to keep schools open and everyone safe. As we have from the beginning of the pandemic, the administration will keep working to ensure every Illinoisan has the tools needed to keep themselves and their loved ones safe."
The Chicago Public Schools had no comment late Friday.
One lawsuit in this matter involved a group of parents pushing for un-masking, and another involved a group of teachers doing the same.
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