Governor J.B. Pritzker’s mask mandate for schools hit another roadblock when a bipartisan legislative committee rejected the Illinois Department of Public Health’s attempt to reintroduce the governor’s emergency COVID-19 protocols for classrooms across the state.
The department’s emergency rules—which served as the state’s official guidance on masks, testing and exclusion for those exposed to SARS-CoV-2 in schools—expired on Sunday (Feb. 13). The emergency rules re-filed on Monday (Feb. 14) became effective immediately.
But on Tuesday (Feb. 15), the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, an oversight panel comprised of Democratic and Republican lawmakers tasked with reviewing rules made by state agencies, voted 9-0 to suspend the emergency rules, citing an on-going court battle that resulted in a temporary restraining order preventing dozens of school districts across the state from requiring students to wear masks in classrooms.
The legislative oversight panel’s vote on Tuesday comes just shy of a week after the governor’s announcement that he would lift the indoor mask mandate for most public settings on February 28—but not yet for schools, arguing the “equation for schools just looks different right now than it does for the general population.”