Batavia school district to ‘suspend’ enforcement of mask mandate; Kaneland to take emergency day Friday

Madeline Auer works in her fifth-grade classroom at Alice Gustafson Elementary School in Batavia on Oct. 26.

Batavia School District 101 announced Thursday that the district will “suspend enforcement of the indoor mask mandate.”

In a letter to families, Superintendent Lisa Hichens stated that while the administration believes the district remains “subject to the Governor’s executive orders, enforcement has become impossible and disruptive.”

“We no longer have the ability to maintain universal masking in our schools.  Coupled with the significant downward trend in new cases, we have decided to suspend enforcement of the indoor mask mandate,” she stated in the letter.

However, the letter also stated that masks are still recommended and should be worn by students and staff while in school.

“If conditions worsen or outbreaks occur, we may need to return to strict enforcement of masking.  Meanwhile, all other mitigation strategies will remain in place,” she stated in the letter.

Students will still be required to wear masks on buses.

Last week, Sangamon County Judge Raylene Grischow declared Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker’s emergency rules for COVID-19 mitigations in schools “null and void,” stopping the state’s mask mandate in about 140 school districts that were defendants in a lawsuit. Geneva and St. Charles school districts were named as defendants in that lawsuit, but Batavia and Kaneland districts were not.

Meanwhile in Kaneland District 302, school is canceled Friday, as the district is using it as an emergency day to be made up on May 19. In an email sent to families, the district will use the day to “provide the administration with an opportunity to plan for the future with regard to COVID-19 requirements and layers of mitigation measures.”

All after-school activities will take place, however masks will be required and anyone who refuses to wear one will be asked to leave, the letter stated.