A private Christian school located in the state of Illinois ended up temporarily losing its state recognition after it delayed making updates to health guidelines which included a mask mandate made by the state’s Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
The Timothy Christian School, which is located in Elmhurst Illinois, put up a video recently of the superintendent saying that leadership fully intended to wait on implementing a mask mandate until it got closer to the first day of classes. Superintendent Matt Davidson then cited construction projects that were happening in the high school that would delay the students from being able to return to school at the same as most of the public schools in the state.
“We’ve taken a very prayerful and methodical approach … Our goal is to stick with the Timothy health plan, and that plan is mask optional,” Davidson went on to explain. “Due to the construction project in the high school, we are starting school a full week later (or more) than most schools. This gives us a unique advantage and extra time to see how this matter plays out statewide as schools open their doors. This also gives us more time to closely observe local data and other Covid metrics.”
Following the video’s publication, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) sent an email to Timothy Christian’s leadership informing them that the school’s recognition status was revoked because the school “declined to affirm” the state’s universal masking requirements.
Timothy Christian denies that it defied the state’s mandate by delaying the reinstitution of a mask mandate.
According to the Chicago Tribune, non-recognized schools are ineligible to participate in Illinois High School Association and Illinois Elementary School Association sanctioned activities, such as sports. Graduating seniors will also receive a diploma that is not recognized by the state’s board of education.
ISBE Superintendent Carmen Ayala maintains that universal masking — and coercing schools into enforcing universal masking — is necessary to keep students safe.
“The purpose of the universal indoor masking requirement is to ensure that all students can safely attend school in-person this fall,” Ayala stated. “Therefore, ISBE must take every action possible under its authority to ensure compliance in all schools with the Executive Order.”
However, an email that was sent by the folks over at Timothy Christian leadership tells a different story than what the ISBE superintendent’s claim that the only way the state can ensure compliance with the mandate is to revoke a school’s recognition. According to the message, which was sent out to parents, other schools that questioned the mandate were placed on probation and then allowed to make some kind of corrective plan.
“Timothy did not receive a notice of probation,” the email states. “Multiple steps have been put in place for other schools, and yet ISBE went right to a nuclear option before we’ve made a final decision about masks or even started school.”
In a statement, Timothy opted to follow Pritzker’s executive order that reinstates universal masking in schools.
“Nevertheless, based on the current situation, Timothy has determined that it will follow the Executive Order, and see one another’s unmasked faces outside,” the school went on to say.
Another email message from Davidson says that the ISBE restored the school’s recognition status, but that decision is contingent on whether or not Timothy Christian updates their health plan.