Local control of masking policies: The demand from some Central Illinois superintendents


Students wear masks in class during the pandemic, 2021 (Nexstar)

CENTRAL ILLINOIS – Several Central Illinois school superintendents are criticizing Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) for not allowing local school boards to issue their own COVID-19 mandates.

In a public opinion editorial signed by more than 80 superintendents and boards of education across the state, eight of them are from Central Illinois. Those superintendents and boards of education are listed below:

  • MORTON — Dr. Jeff Hill, Superintendent and Morton District 709 Board of Education
  • MIDWEST CENTRAL — Dr. Todd Hellrigel, Superintendent and Board of Education
  • HAVANA — Mr. R. Mathew Plater, Superintendent and Board of Education
  • EUREKA — Mr. Robert Bardwel, Superintendent and Eureka CUSD 140 Board of Education
  • FLANAGAN-CORNELL — Mr. Jerry Farris, Superintendent and Flanagan-Cornell FC 74 Board of Education
  • TREMONT — Mr. Sean Better and Board of Education
  • FARMINGTON — Dr. Zac Chatterton, Superindentdent
  • DELAVAN — Dr. Andrew Brooks, Superintendent

In the letter, superintendents regard top-down decisions from the governor and ISBE as, “a continuation of the pattern of higher officials substituting their judgments for those of local school boards.” They also cited concerns about scientific communication on COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) being “inconsistent at best.”

The group also levied criticism at the General Assembly, who they said they view as, “less a partner than an adversary in the education of our children.”

To say this is a challenging and unprecedented time understates it, but the zig-zag nature of decision-making out of Springfield has made it far more difficult to manage our classrooms, our schools, and our districts, creating unnecessary conflict in our communities. None of that serves our students – our reason for being – well. It’s not just about the pandemic. It’s about all of the decisions that have been taken out of local hands by those who are all too distant from the resulting fallout. Enough is enough. Absolutely, it is the principle of the thing. Please, restore local control and accountability to our communities and those of us who know them best.

superintendedents, boardS of education

Those who wish to read the full opinion editorial can do so by clicking the link below.

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