Mask Mandate Update: Warsaw reverses course, CUSD 4 calls special meeting and Quincy’s St. James Lutheran is ‘nonrecognized’


The list of Illinois schools who defied the state’s mask mandate and their status

The Illinois State Board of Education is updating its list of schools that have chosen to defy Governor JB Pritzker’s mask mandate.

The Warsaw School Board voted 5-2 on Monday night to follow the mask mandate when the district returns from the Labor Day break on September 7. School officials met with ISBE representatives earlier in the day, and School Board President Scott Baumann asked if ISBE could return Warsaw’s status to fully recognized immediately if the Board complied. ISBE has not yet taken that action and informed the board it had 60 days to comply or it would lose state recognition.

“I’m disappointed to say the least,” Baumann said via text Tuesday morning. “Hopefully the courts or the legislature can get this mess figured out. Local control is pretty much a thing of the past.”

Former Warsaw School Board member Steve Lucie, who has been pushing for schools to remain mask optional with the We Stand for Our Students group, said during the meeting someone in the crowd read the Illinois High School Association announcement about schools losing postseason eligibility if they are on probation.

“This is just another tragedy to kids that the IHSA has done,” Lucie said via text. “Many parents and teachers spoke of the importance of giving kids as many days of freedom and learning as possible, but the IHSA has different ideas.

“The (Warsaw School) board was totally defeated. I’ve never seen such strong-willed, caring, patriotic people flattened like a streamroller drove over them. There was visible trauma in some (board members).”

The Community Unit 4 School Board has called a special meeting for 6 p.m. Wednesday to reconsider the issue.

The Unity girls volleyball team was scheduled to play its season opener tonight at home against Griggsville-Perry, but because of CUSD No. 4’s mask policy, Griggsville-Perry will not play the match. Unity athletic director Frank Cash believes it will be treated as a no-contest, but the Illinois High School Association has yet to make an official ruling. The volleyball team is expected to host Quincy Notre Dame on Wednesday in Mendon, with the varsity match scheduled to begin at approximately 7 p.m.

Quincy’s St. James Lutheran, a K-8 school at 900 S. 17th, is the latest school added to the ISBE’s nonrecognized list on Monday. St. James has 134 students.

Other area schools current list as “on probation” by ISBE for non-compliance include Camp Point Central in Adams County, Brown County schools and Nauvoo-Colusa, Illini West and LaHarpe, all in Hancock County with Warsaw.

After initially voting to remain mask-optional, Camp Point Central’s and Brown County’s school boards both voted to comply with the state mandate last week. Both remain on probation as of Monday.

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