WESTMONT, Ill. (WREX) – Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) President Dan Montgomery released a statement following the appeals court ruling allowing schools to make masks optional.

Here is the full statement:

“The Illinois 4th District Court of Appeals decision released late last night makes one thing clear: School districts are free to implement their own safety measures around COVID-19. And they should. Since the beginning of this pandemic, we have insisted that appropriate mitigation measures are in place to protect students, teachers and staff, and their families. This was to reduce illness and death and to keep schools open for in-person learning as much as possible. Today’s Court of Appeal decision does nothing to change that calculation.

“We continue to insist that school districts across the state abide by existing collective agreements that are in place to promote health and safety in schools and comply with our school and workplace safety laws. As cases continue to decline, discussions about removing these mitigations must be based on sound public health decisions. Medical science tells us that vaccinations, mask-wearing, and proper ventilation have been the best ways to keep schools healthy. Schools have been able to stay open through the implementation and enforcement of these mitigation strategies designed to protect everyone in school communities, including their families.

The appeals court denied the governor’s appeal of a Sangamon County judge’s decision earlier this month. The ruling allowed schools to make their own decisions about requiring masks.

In their decision, the appeal court judges wrote that there was no “real controversy” to be resolved.

“Because the emergency rules voided by the TRO are no longer in effect, a controversy regarding the application of those rules no longer exists. Thus, the case is moot,” the justices wrote.

Gov. JB Pritzker said the judge’s initial ruling “cultivated chaos” and “out of step with the vast majority of legal analysis in Illinois and across the country.”

“The judge’s decision is cultivating chaos for parents, families, teachers and school administrators across the state,” Governor Pritzker said. said at a press conference on February 7.

The governor or his office has not commented on the appeals court’s decision at this time.