As you are all aware, a judge in downstate Illinois issued a temporary restraining order with regard to the governor’s mask mandate late in the day on Friday. That order has been the subject of tremendous speculation all weekend with regard to what it meant or did not mean. Attorneys from various districts and from the IEA have spent most of the weekend analyzing the opinion. By now, you have gotten word from District 203 that the Board of Education, on advice from its attorneys, has decided to maintain its current mask mandate for both staff and students with the exception of the students specifically named in the lawsuit.
We realize that there are a wide variety of perspectives and opinions on this issue and on the meaning of the ruling set down on Friday. As a result, we know that there will be a variety of reactions to the interpretation of the district’s attorneys and of our school board. Please know that we are mindful of the many of us who are anxious to shed our masks and move forward in a more normal form of existence. With the school board’s statement today, that time is not just yet, but we continue to be heartened by the improving COVID numbers locally and that, one way or another, we can move safely forward towards a more normal form of existence. We will continue to monitor future developments in the case, and we do anticipate that today’s events are subject to change going forward. As we know more, so will you.
While we prepare for the week and whatever comes as the situation evolves, we would urge you to approach this situation with a heightened sense of empathy, respect and deliberate understanding for all those around you. One of the most disappointing elements of the pandemic has been the overwhelming divisiveness it has caused in our society around us. This ruling, as it gets worked out in the court system, has the potential to significantly increase that level of divisiveness amongst us, and with it our already dangerously high levels of anxiety and stress. To be very clear, we must not allow that to happen.
If we are to move forward positively, this will take a level of respect for one another and for our staff, students and community members that we have every confidence exists. This is not an issue as simple as our own convenience or comfort level. We must be willing and committed to continuing to weather this pandemic together absolutely as best as we are able so that we can look back from the other side of it with our heads held high, our humanity and our dignity firmly intact. While it may ring like something of an overused platitude at this point, the fact remains that we are all still in this together and that’s the way we will get out of it- together.
Be well, be safe and be kind to yourselves and each other.
President- Naperville Unit Maintenance Association