District 203 to uphold masking requirements despite temporary restraining order


The district announced Sunday that they will continue to uphold their masking and quarantine requirements despite a downstate ruling. 

On Friday, a Sangamon County judge issued a wide-ranging order against Illinois public schools’ COVID-19 mandates that apparently forced an emergency closed-door board meeting Sunday afternoon to review the order. 

“We will continue to follow all of the safety protocols listed in our Return to Learn plan, which includes the requirement of masking,” a community message from the district’s board of education and superintendent said. “The only exception to this rule will be for those named parties in the lawsuit.”

The message also emphasized that the legal situation is subject to change. 

“We anticipate further updates as the legal process plays out over the following days and weeks, and we will share this important information with the community,” the board and Superintendent Dan Bridges said. 

The restraining order was a result of lawsuits filed by parents and teachers from over 140 Illinois school districts, including District 203. Sangamon County Judge Raylene Grischow said the state mandates on school masking and quarantining were “null” without “due process.” However, districts were struggling to understand the full meaning of the 29-page report

The State of Illinois Attorney General’s Office immediately appealed. 

As for Naperville North specifically, before the temporary restraining order was announced, Principal Stephanie Posey stated that she intends to ensure everyone’s personal safety needs are met in the school setting, despite whatever happens. 

“My job and my priority will be working with people in this building and making sure that we can come up with a plan that as close as possible meets all the people’s needs as things change,” Posey said.

The threat to the mask mandate came as COVID-19 case numbers in District 203 declined, following the Omicron surge.

District 203 reports indicate that within the week of Jan. 9, there were 83 students who tested positive for COVID-19 at NNHS. The following week, 40 positive cases among students were identified. From Jan. 23-29, there were 16 positive cases identified.   

The most direct impact of the temporary restraining order that Naperville North students and staff worried about upon news of the ruling was whether or not the mask mandate would be in place, which is still potentially subject to change. 

“Should that regulation go away, we’ll have a plan where we set aside spaces for people who feel uncomfortable versus how we are going to manage everything in between,” Posey said. 

Students have expressed mixed feelings about unmasking. Dylan Ellis, a sophomore, said he would still wear a mask even if it is not required. 

“I would still wear a mask, and I would feel less safe if others around me are not because then transmission is higher, so I feel like keeping the masks is important,” Ellis said. 

NNHS freshman Kaya Odeh believes that she will eventually become comfortable with not wearing a mask, but that current case numbers are still too high. 

“I don’t think it’s safe yet, I think we still need the cases to go down, but maybe if it’s really low then that would probably be fine,” Odeh said. 

Logan Brennan, a junior, is more comfortable with getting rid of the mask mandate. 

“Personally, I would be excited for no masks because I am the kind of person who smiles at people in the hall and I like seeing other people smile too. I also understand the importance of keeping people safe, so I believe that people just have to do what’s best for them,” Brennan said.

Posey expressed it is the administrators’ job to make the right decisions for students amid the chaos of mixed perspectives on the ruling.

“I have to think about all of those different camps. If the judge in Sangamon County says that the mask mandate is lifted, I’ll have one camp who is very happy and who will immediately want to unmask. Then I’ll have the other extreme, people who will say ‘I don’t feel safe and I want to stay home,’ and again, everything in between,” Posey said.