Chicago Archdiocese Will Continue to Require Masks in Schools, While Other Illinois Dioceses Drop Requirement

'We will continue the current mask policy for now,' Chicago Catholic Schools Superintendent Greg Richmond wrote in an email to parents.

Catholic students wear masks while working in the classroom.
Catholic students wear masks while working in the classroom. (photo: Courtesy photo / Halfpoint)

CHICAGO — Following an Illinois judge’s Friday ruling that nullified a statewide mask mandate for schools, the superintendent of schools for the Chicago archdiocese says masks will continue to be required for students in Chicago Catholic schools. 

In contrast, some other Illinois dioceses have announced that masks will be optional for students. 

On Feb. 4, Sangamon County Judge Raylene Grischow nullified Governor J.B. Pritzker's executive orders on masks and tests, which applied to schools statewide, as a violation of due process. 

Grischow wrote, “This Court acknowledges the tragic toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken, not only on this State, but throughout the nation and globe. Nonetheless, it is the duty of the Courts to preserve the rule of law and ensure that all branches of government act within the bounds of the authority granted under the Constitution. There is no doubt that the public has a strong interest in stopping the spread of this virus, but such does not allow our government ‘to act unlawfully even in the pursuit of desirable ends.’”

Pritzker said in a statement that his office plans to appeal the decision. 

“We will continue the current mask policy for now,” Chicago Catholic Schools Superintendent Greg Richmond wrote in an email to parents, as reported by LGIS News Agency.

“A court case is not medicine…While we follow the laws that apply to us, our decisions about the health and safety of our students and staff will always be guided by health data and in consultation with doctors and trained public health officials.”

Richmond added that allowing students not to wear masks “would create confusion and disruption in our schools.”

Following the ruling, some schools in the Belleville, Rockford, and Springfield in Illinois dioceses announced that masks would be optional, while the Joliet diocese will continue to require masks. 

“A non public school can require masks independent of the status of a governor's order,” Richmond, the Chicago superintendent, continued. “We required masks in our schools last year without an executive order and have the legal ability to continue to do it now.”

The Chicago archdiocese’ Catholic schools office did not respond to CNA’s request for comment by press time. 

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago is one of several bishops in the U.S. who has instructed clerics not to assist parishioners seeking religious exemptions from receiving COVID-19 vaccines. Cardinal Cupich also decreed that all archdiocesan employees and clergy to receive the vaccine for COVID-19, only allowing exemptions for medical reasons.

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