This update comes in the interest of keeping you all in the loop and as a potentially important heads-up. Some of you are aware that a lawsuit challenging the statewide school mask mandate and quarantine requirements for students (Austin V. The B.O.E. of C.U.S.D. #300, et al.) has been winding its way through the Illinois legal system downstate. Right now, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs has submitted a motion to the court for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the mask mandate and quarantine requirements, arguing that (1) his case is likely to succeed at trial and (2) both the mask mandate and quarantine requirements should be suspended immediately, at least until the trial is held in this matter. The judge is expected to issue her ruling on this matter today, probably by noon, and from arguments thus far, it seems reasonable to expect that she will grant the TRO. What this means is that, by noon today, the statewide school mask mandate may not exist, at least temporarily
If this happens it will likely create an environment of uncertainty in your buildings and worksites. The purpose of this email is to let you know what we know, and what you can expect at least initially if this ruling goes as we expect it might. Further information will come from both us and the District once we know for sure what the ruling is and how it will play out locally.
Please understand that this ruling could take many forms, so it may take some time to determine what it does and does not entail. For example, it could strike down the statewide mandate for students but leave it up to Districts to impose their own mandate. It could ban mandates altogether. We simply won’t know for sure but you should be prepared for some element of uncertainty this afternoon into tomorrow as we work with the other three Local Associations, the District and our lawyers to determine the legal issues involved. For now, please know the following:
- The District, NUMA and all of our IEA Local Associations and are in favor of following the guidance of statewide health authorities for the sake of your health and safety, as well as all of our staff and students. This position will govern both of our actions in the coming days.
- The mask mandate in question is specifically for Students, as of now there is no planned or proposed change to the masking requirement for staff.
- It’s possible that uncertainty may persist into the evening tomorrow, so if it is determined that we need to take an emergency day on Friday as a means of assessing the situation and adjusting our practice, remember that we will still be reporting to work as usual. To be clear, no such day is currently planned, but it would be good to be prepared in case it occurs. Both we and the district understand and anticipate that this ruling could cause significant concern and anxiety among staff, students and parents in the district.
Please remember that we are in this together. We recognize that we may have differing opinions on mask and quarantine requirements. This current situation will work out however it will work out, but we will all be better served by remembering that we are all struggling in our own way through all of this. We hope our actions in the coming days serve to further unify us rather than divide us.
Tomorrow’s ruling will almost surely trigger a series of appeals to higher courts, challenging one ruling after another. It is truly hard to tell how this will play out over time. As hard as it is, please be patient and know that we are working closely with the District to ensure that all reasonable actions are taken to keep everyone – staff and students alike – as safe as possible. And we will communicate as openly and frequently as possible so that you know the most current information as this plays out.
I wish I could be more specific with this communication at this moment, but there is too much not known. We want to emphasize the importance of not making assumptions regarding what will happen before it happens. We have tried to lay out a range of possibilities, but we truly do not know what will occur later today. We only know that we do not want any of you blindsided or put into a position of unexpected anxiety or stress. And we also know that being aware of these possibilities will put us in a better position of dealing with this afternoon, tomorrow and coming days in a way that is confident, positive and as prepared as possible. So please feel free to reach out with questions, but do know that you will be hearing both from us and the district assuming the ruling is issued today as expected.
Thank you. Be well, stay safe and look out for one another.
Naperville Unit Maintenance Association