Some parents rally against District 300's continued mask requirement
Days after a judge ruled to lift a statewide mask mandate in Illinois schools, parents rallied outside the district offices of Community Unit District 300 in Algonquin in an effort to sway the district to drop mandatory masking for students.
"A year ago we came here to this spot to rally to reopen the schools," said 17-year-old Brett Corrigan, a former Jacobs High School student who helped organize the rally. "Now we are here to unmask the students.
"Parents should make the choice," Corrigan said.
The rally, which featured Republican candidates for state and local races, drew more than 150 people, including some students. Many stayed for Tuesday's board meeting even if it meant waiting outside district offices for a turn to speak to the board.
"Stop the discrimination, put an end to it," said Sharon Fetting, an Algonquin mother of twins who attend Jacobs High School. "Unmask our kids."
A school board meeting following the rally became heated, with one parent being escorted out of the meeting after responding to comments from the board president and another parent telling police to arrest her when she was asked to leave for speaking out of turn. Board members called a recess at one point and then later adjourned the meeting, with the board president citing safety concerns.
"The meeting is no longer peaceful," board President David Scarpino said.
Though many parents spoke against the mask mandate, several parents said they attended Tuesday's meeting to thank the board members for their service during the pandemic.
"I'm just here to lend support," said Ali McPartland, an Algonquin woman whose children attend District 300 schools.
McPartland said she supported people's right to take their cause to the courts but that the debate did not belong at the school board.
District 300 officials Monday used an emergency day to determine how to address the temporary restraining order issued by a Sangamon County judge against the state's mask mandate for schools. Students returned to school Tuesday with a mask mandate in full force for all except the students from District 300 named in the lawsuit.
"What makes one student different from the other?" said Faith Bartlett, a Hampshire High School freshman who was named in the lawsuit. She said the judge's order should apply to any student who wants to come to school maskless.
She added that one of her friends, whom she rides to school with and sits next to at lunch each day, was segregated from other students Tuesday because she did not wear a mask.
Other students shared similar stories of being segregated from others after declining to wear a face covering, but they said that will not deter them.
"I'm going to do the exact same thing," said Caitlyn Hoffman, a sophomore at Hampshire High School who said she planned to go to school Wednesday without a mask.
A spokesman for the district said the board did not have any additional comment and referred to previous statements from the district, which said the district would enforce the mask mandate for all students not named in the lawsuit after saying earlier the district was evaluating the impact of the judge's ruling on its mitigations.