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Friday, February 18, 2022

Appellate Court Finds Appeal of TRO in School Mask Mandate Challenge "Moot"

Many have been following the lawsuit filed by parents against the Illinois Governor, the IDPH, and the Illinois State Board of Education, among others, that challenged the State of Illinois' school mask mandate that had been enacted by state agency emergency rules. On February 4, 2022, a Sangamon County Judge issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) declaring the emergency rule "null and void" and restraining enforcement of Executive Orders 2021-18, 2021-24, and 2021-25. 

That ruling was appealed to the Illinois Appellate Court (4th Circuit), which issued a ruling yesterday declaring the matter "moot" because the emergency rules that were the subject of the circuit court's ruling had expired. Specifically, on February 15, 2022, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) objected to and suspended the IDPH's renewal of the emergency rules relating to school mask mandates, meaning that the emergency rules had expired by their own terms on February 13, 2022. Since none of the rules that the circuit court found null and void are currently in effect, the appellate court ruled there was no longer a controversy for the appellate court to decide. Austin et al. v. Board of Education of Community Unit Sch. Dist. 300, et al., 2022 IL App (4th) 220090-U. 

One paragraph of interest in the appellate decision references the authority of local school districts to act on their own to address COVID-19. That language is reprinted below.

We note the language of the TRO in no way restrains school districts from acting independently from the executive orders or the IDPH in creating provisions addressing COVID-19. Thus, it does not appear the school districts are temporarily restrained from acting by the court's TRO.


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