School District 308 is maintaining its rules regarding masking until an appeal is made on a recent temporary restraining order regarding mask mandates in schools.
On Feb. 6, Dr. John Sparlin, SD308 superintendent, sent an email to families regarding a temporary restraining order issued by Springfield Judge Raylene Grischow that enjoined the governor’s student and staff mask mandate, as well as the exclusion of students who are close contacts.
“Please reinforce with your children the requirements to be masked in school and to follow the other mitigation measures that are all still in effect in the District,” Sparlin stated in the email.
As shown in a chart included in the email, SD308 is classified as a high transmission zone, with 461.4 new cases per 100,000 persons as of Feb. 3, 2022.
“If the school set the safety protocols, and set them forth, then we still follow those safety protocols, regardless of the lawsuit” Carrie Nadziejko, assistant principal’s secretary at OHS, said.
Students responded to this reinforced policy in various ways, including waves of social media posts rejecting the mandate and calling for a protest against the mask mandate. Maskless students upon arrival to OHS were confronted by staff and asked to follow the mandate.
“The instant we walked in the door, it was ‘put a mask on.’ ‘No thank you.’ We were respectful the whole time,” OHS junior Mikayla Hamiti said.
Students who chose not to wear a mask to school were sent to in-school suspension, which overflowed into Room 190, for the day.
“I feel like we’re being imprisoned because we’re following a court order,” OHS junior Ella Brown, who was one of several OHS students who showed up to school without a mask on Monday, Feb. 7, said.
“We’re standing up for our rights, and we’re basically getting in trouble for that,” Brown said.
Students in in-school suspension were not allowed to join their classes via Google Meet and had to be accompanied by an adult when they left the room.
“The lady that escorted me inside the bathroom came inside the bathroom with me,” Brown said.
Other students who were able to attend their classes saw very few differences from before the weekend.
“[In] my classes, we have people who respect the mask policy, so there was no need for me to feel unsafe,” junior Jasmine Boyd said.
Administrators gave teachers instructions to follow regarding unmasked students, which included offering unmasked students a mask and calling the dean if students choose not to comply.
“From being able to open up schools and not be remote—and just from my personal experience as a parent—I see my kids not get as sick [with masks], and I do believe that [the masks] work,” OHS English Teacher and Yearbook Adviser Mrs. Ewa Tulak said.
The next board meeting, which has been postponed to Feb. 10 at 7:15 p.m. due to safety concerns, will provide more information regarding the temporary restraining order.
Additional reporting by Trinity Heard, Kira Farooqui, Delaney Holman, Rae Barry, and Tori Trevino
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