Motions Denied: Student Masks Remain Optional

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Masks will remain optional for students in the Hillsboro School District.

Motions to reconsider temporary restraining orders prohibiting the district from requiring students to wear masks, and from excluding students due to contact tracing were denied by Judge Douglas Gruenke in Montgomery County Circuit Court on Friday afternoon, Sept. 24.

The restraining orders were issued on Friday, Sept. 10, regarding exclusion in a suit filed by Jay and Heather Greenwood, and on Friday, Sept. 17, regarding masks in a suit filed by Mark and Emily Hughes.  The school district had filed motions to reconsider those restraining orders after changes in the Illinois Administrative Code regarding public health and control of communicable diseases.

The judge said he had “serious concerns about whether the department of health has tried to nullify due process” in denying the motion to reconsider the exclusion restraining order, and regarding the mandatory masks, the judge said “on my own research I could not find where these rules were properly implemented.”

Attorney Luke Feeney, representing the school district argued that after the court’s decision in granting the restraining orders, “the relevant administrative code was changed.”

The judge however, questioned whether the new Sept. 17 emergency rules were properly implemented.

“If the plaintiff wants to challenge the validity of the rules, that is between the plantiff and IDPH,” Feeney said.  “The school district cannot defend IDPH.”

Because because both court cases involve executive orders by the governor, administrative code by the Illinois Department of Public Health–and now, whether that code was properly changed–and guidance issued by the Illinois State Board of Education, the judge ruled that all three are “necessary parties” to the case and asked the plaintiffs’ attorney Tom Devore to amend his complaint to include the three state parties within the next week.  The school district did not object to their inclusion.

A status hearing for both cases was set for 9 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 5.

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