Illinois school mask mandate brews contention as Orland Park mayor pushes back against masking kids

Illinois school mask mandate to take effect immediately in K-12 schools, daycares, Pritzker says

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Thursday, August 5, 2021
Orland Park mayor pushes back against mask mandate for kids
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Orland Park school board president says if the district does not follow the mandate they could risk losing state funding or face liability issues from insurance carriers.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Kids in Orland Park are enjoying the last few weeks of summer as District 135 prepares to start the school year on August 25.

The School Board was likely to make masks optional until Governor J.B. Pritzker announced a mask mandate Wednesday for all K-12 schools and daycares in Illinois.

"Our attorneys have advised us strongly to follow the mandate," said Orland Park School Board President Linda Peckham-Dodge.

WATCH | Gov. Pritzker announces school mask mandate

Gov. JB Pritzker announced a statewide school mask mandate as well as a vaccine requirement for some state employees.

Peckham-Dodge said if the district does not follow the mandate, they could risk losing state funding or face liability issues from insurance carriers.

Orland Park's Mayor may not have any power over the school district, he is calling for emergency meeting Friday in reaction to the announcement.

RELATED: Face masks in schools offer unexpected benefits against other childhood illnesses, doctor says

"Let's not demand that all our children take these actions to protect adults," he said.

Mayor Keith Pekau said he will not require kids to wear masks at any village events.

Frank Lattyak, a parent of two kids, said the mayor is wasting taxpayer money fighting mask mandates.

"I think it's about finding solutions," Lattyak said. "I think masking and mandates -- the more protected, the more we stop the spread, the more we protest businesses locally."

Like many communities, Orland Park parents are split on masking.

RELATED: Illinois school mask mandate from Gov. Pritzker meets some opposition

Amanda Steenvoorden is strongly against the school mandate. The mother of six is now thinking of home schooling for the upcoming year.

"The numbers don't prove anything right now, they are not showing a mask mandate is necessary," she said.

However, Peckham Dodge said masks will eliminate 6-foot social distancing and quarantines.

"The new guidance says if you are masked in school universally, you can test to stay," Dodge said.

WATCH: Political analyst weighs in on Illinois school mask mandate

A political analyst weighed in on Illinois' new school mask mandate Thursday.

Last year, over 706 students in the district were forced to quarantine.

The mask issue will be the number one topic at the monthly school board meeting on Monday.