Brimfield CUSD could face steep penalties for defying governor’s mask mandate

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BRIMFIELD (WEEK) — Brimfield CUSD #309’s return-to-school plan makes a mask optional in the district’s self-defined lowest mitigation tier, a directive that contradicts the governor’s universal mask mandate.

That decision could carry heavy penalties that could affect sports and diploma conferral.

Governor JB Pritzker enacted a mask mandate for everyone in P-12 school buildings and daycares during a press conference August 4. However, Brimfield’s plan adds a caveat.

“Everyone in a P-12 school in Illinois is subject to this mandate except in Mitigation Level 1,” the plan states in part.

Brimfield Superintendent Tony Shinall says the board approved the plan at its board meeting this week.

“The board voted 5 to 2 to proceed with the plan that’s on the website,” Shinall said. “At Mitigation Level 1, masks were not required.”

In an email sent to the community Thursday evening, Shinall writes they expect to start in that lowest mitigation tier next week, with a positivity rate under 10 percent in their zip codes. Numbers released by the Illinois Department of Public Health Friday indicate the rolling positivity rate statewide is under six percent.

A screenshot of an email sent August 12 from Supt. Shinall to the Brimfield Community

The Peoria County Regional Office of Education says districts like Brimfield could face steep penalties from the state if they don’t back down, including probation and loss of accreditation from the Illinois State Board of Education.

As a consequence, the school district could lose the ability to compete in IHSA and IESA sports, and students could potentially graduate without an accredited diploma. Other potential consequences could include a loss of funding and less protection from lawsuits.

Regional Superintendent for Peoria County Beth Crider says the state is currently sending letters to some 20 school districts across the state who have passed plans not fully complaint with the governor’s mandate. She says the state is prepared to follow through with their threats.

“Any choice that a school board makes has consequences, for good and for bad,” Crider said. “The consequences that are coming from the governor’s office and the State Board of Education are very serious and they are being followed through.”

Superintendent Shinall didn’t himself vote on the back-to-school plan, and he did not state a position during a phone call Friday. However, he is aware of the potential consequences.

“I and our staff are extremely excited to welcome our students back to campus next Wednesday,” Shinall said.

The Illinois State Board of Education has not responded to a request for comment.

The post Brimfield CUSD could face steep penalties for defying governor’s mask mandate appeared first on WEEK.

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