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February 7, 2022

Dear  Rondout Families, Faculty and Staff,

There has been a large amount of communication in the media regarding the impact of Sangamon County Judge Raylene Grischow’s entry of a temporary restraining order (TRO) enjoining the Governor from enforcing his executive orders requiring masking and quarantines for students, teachers, staff and visitors, as well as requiring mandatory vaccinations or testing for school employees. While some of the communications received raise questions about the TRO and its impact on our school community, others assert that school districts such as ours which have not been named in the lawsuit must suspend their existing COVID mitigation strategies and permit students to attend school without wearing a mask.  This assertion is incorrect, and students and school employees will be expected to comply with our existing protocols.

As stated above, the TRO was entered by the Honorable Raylene Grischow, a circuit court judge in the Seventh Judicial District. As a circuit court judge, Hon. Grischow’s jurisdiction is limited to the named defendants in this lawsuit, specifically Governor J.B. Pritzker, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the 150+ public school districts named in the caption of the lawsuit.  Rondout School District is not a named defendant.  Accordingly, the order does not apply to Rondout School District 72 and cannot be cited or relied upon, either by Rondout School District 72 or by individual parents, as a basis for non-compliance with the Governor’s orders regarding masking, quarantining, testing and vaccines, nor for non-compliance with Rondout School District 72’s stated COVID mitigation policies.

We understand that the twenty-nine-page opinion and order on this TRO has been widely distributed through social media and other news outlets. We are also aware that many individuals have reviewed the language of the opinion and have mistakenly concluded that the Hon. Judge Grischow has “struck down” the Governor’s order throughout the State of Illinois, and not just in regard to the named plaintiffs.  This assumption is likely based on the Judge’s footnotes on page 28 of the Order, which reiterates her ruling against the named defendants (the Governor, IDPH, ISBE and the named public school districts) and states “Any non-named Plaintiffs and School Districts throughout this State may govern themselves accordingly.”

While the parties before a circuit court judge must respect and abide by her ruling, judges in the circuit court do not have authority under Illinois law to impose their authority on non-named individuals or entities.  Therefore, Rondout School District 72 will be maintaining its existing COVID mitigation strategies, including requiring masking for everyone, until the ruling has been considered by a higher court. The Governor has indicated he is appealing the determination to the 4th District Appellate Court today; the Appellate Court will also consider whether enforcement of the order will be “stayed.” We will continue to monitor these proceedings, and keep you informed. Should future rulings impact the status of our COVID-mitigation policies, we will set a Board meeting to review those rulings and adjust our procedures to be within the parameters of applicable law. At this time, students, staff and visitors must be in compliance with existing mitigation strategies. 

We understand that this pending litigation has created a sense of uncertainty for our families. And while we appreciate that members of our school community may have different views regarding the District’s COVID mitigation strategies, we ask for your continued patience, partnership and support during this unsettled time. Please be assured that I will keep you updated on any new developments impacting our school district.

Best regards,

Dr. Jenny T. Wojcik