BRIMFIELD (WEEK) — Brimfield USD #309’s school board voted 4-2 in favor of following Gov. Pritzker’s school mask mandate at a special meeting Wednesday night.
More than 100 people filled the Brimfield High School gym for the meeting, which lasted nearly five hours and included three hours of public comment from dozens of parents and several students.
Many parents spoke in favor of following the mask mandate in wake of the Illinois State Board of Education’s warnings to revoke recognition status.
“Forget about the idea that you’re risking teachers pensions and jobs,” one parent told board members, “Those are all important issues and I care about them equally. But I’m here to talk about my son. And I am a mama bear – and you have messed with my cub.”
The Brimfield School Board recently approved a return-to-school plan setting up self-described “mitigation tiers.” The first mitigation tier said masks would be optional for students and staff if the area had a COVID-19 positivity rate of less than 10%.
When students returned to classes on Wednesday, the district was under that tier, so masks were optional.
The State Board of Education sent a letter to the district on Monday, along with over two dozen others in the state, putting Brimfield “on probation” for “putting the health and safety of students and staff at risk.” The letter warned that if Brimfield didn’t comply with the mask mandate within 60 days, the state board would drop the district’s recognition status to “unrecognized,” meaning all state funding would be revoked and Brimfield students would be barred from competing in sports.
Two days later, Brimfield board members met again to address the matter.
After the public comment was over at , the board entered a closed session for roughly an hour and a half.
Around 11:15 PM, they returned to the gym, where roughly 50 people were still waiting, and voted 4-2 to follow the mask rule.
Board members Patrick Meyer and Mark Bell voted against it.
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