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Pikeland School Board votes to require masks as ordered by state

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PITTSFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) -- Students attending Pikeland District Schools will have to wear masks this fall, as the school board voted to make masks a requirement on Friday morning to be in compliance with Governor JB Pritzker's executive order.

Masks will not be required outdoors.

Many parents were upset that the school board voted to require masks as they previously said students only had to wear masks during passing periods, on buses and where social distancing cant be practiced.

One parent wished the board pushed back against orders from the state.

"We still got to stand up for our kids, you know, they can't really make decisions for themselves, especially at that age and that group," said Pikeland parent Amber Sidwell. "They're just gonna do what we tell them to do. We're their voices."

Another parent is concerned his son won't be able to play sports because he does not want to wear a mask at school.

"My oldest plays high school football and the school says that if he don't do the complying with the masks that they will be able to stop him from playing football and I don't think it's right," said Pikeland parent Casey Smith.

Pikeland Superintendent Dr. Carol Kilver says she confidently supports the board's decision to make masks required in schools.

"Based on the guidance we have and knowing what the fallout could be of not following the mandate put out by the governor's executive order. I think the Pikeland board has made the best decision with the information we have today," said Kilver.

The Warsaw school district was notified Thursday night in a letter from the Illinois State Board of Education that the district's recognition status has been lowered to "On Probation" for being non-compliant with masking requirements.

That letter says the district could see further consequences for non-compliance, possibly dropping the district to "Nonrecognized" status, with could include being barred from participating in IHSA and IESA sanctioned sports and seniors who graduate from the school would receive a diploma that's not recognized the state, and would remain unrecognized even if the school regained recognition in the future.

"In looking at what's happening to those school districts I feel really confident that myself and the board have known that all of that was a reality," said Kilver.

She said the district relies on state funding for their special needs students and Title 1 programs and the board did not want to risk losing those funds.

Kilver said the schools will return to their phased mask plan if Governor Pritzker lifts his order.

Related: ISBE lowers Warsaw School District status in response to board making masks optional, says further action possible

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Rebecca Duffy

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