Meridian Response to TRO Ruling

Meridian Response to TRO Ruling
Posted on 02/06/2022

Meridian Community,

On February 4, 2022, a judge in Sangamon County issued temporary restraining orders related to the Governor’s COVID-19 executive orders and emergency rules issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health (“IDPH”) and Illinois State Board of Education (“ISBE”) regarding COVID mitigation strategies for students and staff in school. The judge also declared IDPH’s and ISBE’s emergency rules related to masking, student/staff exclusions for quarantine as “close contacts,” and staff vaccination/testing requirements are null and void.

MCUSD 223 was not a party to this lawsuit, and the judge’s order does not expressly apply to our district. However, we (the Board and Superintendent) interpret the judge’s ruling to invalidate the Governor’s executive orders and IDPH’s and ISBE’s rules, rendering these mandates unenforceable against every school district in the state. Therefore, beginning Monday, February 7, 2022, we are TEMPORARILY adopting a “mask optional/recommended” mitigation strategy in the District until the appellate decision is levied. Students and staff may choose to wear masks, but masks will no longer be required to come to work or school. Please note masks are still required on all District transportation due to the continued TSA mandate requiring face coverings on public transportation.

Additionally, the District will not exclude students or employees identified as “close contacts” to a positive COVID-19 case who are asymptomatic. Depending on our conversations with the Ogle County Health Department, we may, however, continue to conduct contact tracing and report the names of students and staff identified as close contacts to the local health department.

Please note, this will eliminate the exclusion of ASYMPTOMATIC persons. Symptomatic persons would still be subject to testing and/or exclusion from the school environment. Additionally, symptomatic persons visiting the nurse’s office will be required to wear a mask in that setting. COVID positive students and staff would still need to not be in the school environment for at least five days as per the protocol we have been operating under.

Students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 will remain excluded from school for the time periods set forth in the IDPH’s Exclusion Protocol. Finally, school district personnel are no longer required to provide proof of vaccination status or submit to weekly testing.


In closing, I must emphasize this litigation is still ongoing. It is entirely possible the judge’s February 4 decision voiding these COVID -19 mitigation mandates will be stayed or reversed on appeal and these mandates regarding masks, exclusion for “close contacts” and vaccine/testing for staff are quickly reinstated. To be clear, this could be stayed as early as tomorrow, Monday. If a stay is not granted, the appellate court is scheduled to rule on this matter by February 17th. In preparation, the BOE will schedule a Special Meeting for February 18th (Time TBD) to consider the ruling at that time and make appropriate adjustments as necessary to our Return-to-Learn plan.

Lastly, it is entirely possible that masking may be instituted in the event of an outbreak or based on negative school-based data in the future. This was a part of the mitigation strategy the district proposed and shared with the community prior to the Executive Order mandating masking which we had been operating on before this judgment.  Thank you for your continued support.

For transparency – 63 percent of staff preferred a mask optional approach and 76 percent of parents preferred a mask optional approach.


PJ Caposey