Sangamon County judge temporarily halts school mask mandate; Pritzker vows appeal

A Sangamon County judge issued a temporary restraining order late Friday that could disrupt Gov. J.B. Pritkzer's school mask mandate — a measure that required the use of a face covering indoors in all Illinois schools since August because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pritzker released a statement hours later promising to appeal the decision from Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Raylene Grischow. Grischow ruled that the governor's emergency order was “deemed null and void,” according to a report from political blog Capitol Fax.

The judge's order also halts requirements under Pritkzer's mandate, which stipulates those who are not vaccinated must submit to weekly COVID-19 testing in schools, according to Capitol Fax, or be barred from school buildings if they've been exposed to the virus.

In a statement, Pritzker vowed swift action to appeal the restraining order through the Illinois Attorney General's Office.

“The grave consequence of this misguided decision is that schools in these districts no longer have sufficient tools to keep students and staff safe while COVID-19 continues to threaten our communities — and this may force schools to go remote,” Pritzker said in the statement. “This shows yet again that the mask mandate and school exclusion protocols are essential tools to keep schools open and everyone safe.”

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