West Central Schools make masks optional, defies Illinois governor


BIGGSVILLE, Ill. — The West Central School Board has voted to defy Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s school mask mandate, which could cost the district state and federal money, its ability to participate in IESA and IHSA athletics and even the ability to issue high school diplomas. 

On Tuesday, West Central’s board voted 5-2 for a plan to make mask-wearing indoors at schools optional for students, staff and visitors. 

Boards members Sarah Bigger, Mindy Clark, Mike Lenahan, Brendan Schaley and Dillan Vancil all voted in favor of the plan, while members Jodi Arnold and Steve Lumbeck voted against the plan.    

West Central families were notified on Aug. 6 that the vote on ending mask-mandates was coming. 

The vote came days after Pritzker’s Aug. 4 issuance of Executive Order Number 18 (COVID-19 Executive Order Number 85), which is meant to mitigate the spread of the delta variant strain of COVID-19. The order mandates “the indoor use of face coverings by students, staff, and visitors who are over age 2 and able to medically tolerate a face covering, regardless of vaccination status” at all public and nonpublic schools serving Pre-K-12th grade students in Illinois, in accordance with guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education, Illinois Department of Public Health and CDC.  



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