Some 145 Illinois parents filed a lawsuit in the Macoupin County Circuit Court on October 15 against as many school districts in the state, the Illinois State Board of Education, and Gov JB Pritzker, claiming the governor’s mask mandate in public schools was illegal and violates the laws of Illinois.
The 359-page complaint, most of which is the listing of plaintiffs and defendants, exhibits, and signature pages, equates the governor’s order that schoolchildren wear masks while inside school buildings to a quarantine, mainly because—and this is a stunning legal argument—school districts have assumed the authority of denying access to in-person learning for students who refuse to wear a mask:
Quarantine is defined as the physical separation and confinement of an individual.
By definition, excluding a Student from entering upon the premises of the School Districts [for in-person learning] is a type of quarantine.
The very purpose of excluding a Student who is alleged to have been in close contact with a positive COVID person from the premises of the School District is to restrain the Student from entering upon the School District premises so as to keep a physical distance between the Student who was in such alleged close contact and the rest of the School Districts’ Student population.
Such action against the Students is a type of quarantine which requires consent of a parent, or a lawful order of quarantine having issued in favor of the certified local health department or [the Illinois Department of Public Health].
None of the Defendants have the authority to authorize exclusion of children from the premises of the School Districts without an order of quarantine.
Although some arguments in the complaint may have legal merit, I’m still hopeful that the case will be moot as the number of individuals, including schoolchildren, who get a vaccine against Covid-19 reaches a critical mass.
In other words, even if the governor’s mask mandate is not technically legal and imposes a legally unjustified “quarantine” on students, the pandemic may be over and the mandate lifted naturally before any injunction can take effect.
And if not enough people get vaccinated, I am hopeful that the mandate will turn into common sense and people will wear masks voluntarily to protect the health of older individuals, teachers, and those with underlying medical conditions that make Covid-19 much more dangerous and more long-term.
The complaint also alleges that the parents in the lawsuit “represent” all the parents in the schools. I see no basis for this far-fetched legal claim of standing.
Parents in Algonquin launched a petition to say these parents do not represent them and they do not want the mask mandate and other safety measures lifted at their schools. They hope other parents will join them in helping to keep students, teachers, and families safe.
In the meantime, more than a hundred Illinois school districts will have to retain counsel to respond to the complaint, which is set to be heard in Macoupin County on November 5. This will amount to more money being spent by schools, albeit at the behest of parents, on fees that don’t benefit the education of our students one bit and may, in fact, compromise their wellbeing.