Skip to content

Pritzker taking masks in schools to the Illinois Supreme Court

Illinois is one of the last states with executive mandates in place and, with COVID numbers plummeting, many analysts are unsure as to why Gov. Pritzker is fighting so hard against democratic principles.

Associated Press Chicago Journal
Associated Press / Chicago Journal
3 min read
Pritzker taking masks in schools to the Illinois Supreme Court

By JOHN O'CONNOR | Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker plans to ask the state Supreme Court to review a ruling that invalidated his orders for face masks in public schools and other COVID-19 protections, a spokeswoman said Friday.

The Democrat said he is worried about keeping kids healthy and in school, rather than learning remotely, after a 4th District Appellate Court ruling late Thursday.

The court did not offer an opinion on the legality of Pritzker's emergency school-mask order. It called the question moot because a bipartisan legislative oversight committee blocked its re-implementation this week.[1]

Pritzker is working with Illinois Democratic Attorney General Kwame Raoul on an “expedited review” by the high court, spokeswoman Jordan Abudeyyah said.

“In the meantime, the governor urges everyone to continue following the doctors’ advice to wear masks so students can remain safely learning in classrooms,” said Abudayyeh, adding that Pritzker “is encouraged that the court made it clear that school districts can continue to keep their own mitigations in place.”

The legal drama over masks in public schools has unfolded even as COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations have plunged after the omicron variant's peak last month. Last week, Pritzker announced he would lift the statewide indoor mask mandate on Feb. 28 — but not for schools.[2]

The appellate court weighed in about two weeks after Sangamon County Circuit Judge Raylene Grischow issued a temporary restraining order invalidating the school mask mandate, as well as several other emergency orders, including vaccine requirements for school employees.[3][4] Pritzker implemented the vaccine mandate at the beginning of the school year.[5]

Grischow agreed with teachers and students who had sued, arguing that schools couldn't be ordered to require masking without a public health quarantine order. She also said people can't be excluded from school who have had contact with the virus without a hearing.

Before the appellate court could review Grischow's opinion, the emergency rules expired. The Illinois Department of Public Health sought to extend them this week, but the bicameral, bipartisan Joint Committee on Administrative Rules declined. The unanimous vote indicated a spreading desire among lawmakers for more involvement in managing the pandemic.

With the legislative panel's vote, the issue is moot, the appellate court said.

“The existence of an actual controversy is a prerequisite for appellate jurisdiction, and a reviewing court will generally not decide matters that are abstract, hypothetical, or moot,” the court wrote.

The state's largest teachers' union and school district were among those applauding the court's decision that administrators could decide the mask issue locally.

Chicago Public Schools, the nation's third-largest school district, reaffirmed its commitment to universal masking, staff vaccinations and remote work or learning for those exposed to the coronavirus.

"These safety measures are what have allowed us to provide our students with the in-person learning environment they need throughout this school year," Chicago Public Schools said in a statement. “We will continue to follow these protocols until such time as our public health partners advise us that restrictions can be safely lifted.”

Subscribe to the Chicago Journal

The Chicago Journal needs your support.

At just $20/year, your subscription not only helps us grow, it helps maintain our commitment to independent publishing.


Follow Political Writer John O’Connor at

Notes & References

  1. Spearie, Steven. “What You Need to Know about the Latest Illinois Schools Mask Mandate Ruling by JCAR.” The State Journal-Register. State Journal-Register, February 17, 2022. ↩︎

  2. Press, Associated. “Pritzker to Lift Mask Mandate...except for Schools.” Chicago Journal. Chicago Journal, February 9, 2022. ↩︎

  3. ↩︎

  4. “Illinois Judge Blocks School Mask Mandate, State to Appeal.” AP NEWS. Associated Press, February 5, 2022. ↩︎

  5. Tareen, Sophia. “Illinois Requires Educators, Health Workers to Get Vaccine.” AP NEWS. Associated Press, August 27, 2021. ↩︎

LawIllinois PoliticsPolitics

Associated Press Twitter

News and content from The Associated Press, which has been covering the world's most important stories since 1846.

Chicago Journal Twitter

The Chicago Journal is a general interest, digital publication focused on the political, cultural, and economic issues relevant to the city of Chicago and the surrounding metro area.


Supreme Court upholds cash-free bail in Illinois, takes effect in September

Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Jane Theis ordered that the halt on the law be lifted 60 days after Tuesday's opinion, on Sept. 18, 2023.

Supreme Court upholds cash-free bail in Illinois, takes effect in September

Kim Foxx won't seek third term

“I leave now with my head held high, with my heart full, knowing that better days are ahead,” Foxx said. “And it has been my honor and my privilege on behalf of project kids across this city."

Kim Foxx won't seek third term

Johnson elected Chicago mayor in victory for progressives

Johnson, a Cook County commissioner endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union, won a close race over former Chicago schools CEO Paul Vallas.

Johnson elected Chicago mayor in victory for progressives