District administrators, members of the board of education – I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak tonight.
I understand the privilege and sacrifice of serving on a board and the direct impact you have on the citizens you serve. Thank you for your selfless dedication in serving the citizens and students of the TRIAD school district.
Tonight, I would like to formally address the challenges you will face with the implementation of COVID 19 policies and procedures for the 2021-2022 school year. I am going to challenge you to be bold and protect the rights of every parent, student, teacher, and staff member by ensuring everyone’s personal choice and civil liberties are honored by removing all restrictions related to masking, vaccine requirements, social distancing, and COVID testing.
First, I think it’s important to recognize your leadership in the 2020-2021 school year and the initiatives that were taken to get our children back in the classroom. You set the standard for other districts in Madison County.
My professional education includes a Masters’s Degree in Emergency Services Management with a focus on disaster preparedness. I completed several studies on the government’s impact on individual rights during a disaster declaration – specifically related to a pandemic. Let me sum up the findings I identified in 2014. First, Executive Orders would violate individual rights that would be tested for years to come in the courts because, at the time, only two states had active laws on the books related to civil liberties and due process for a pandemic. Does this scenario sound familiar to you?
The restrictions or guidance in place today are governed by a disaster declaration under the Stafford Act through the use of Executive Orders. Executive Orders or guidance are NOT laws, making it a very complex process for the government to take enforcement action because these orders often lack substantive due process. When the Stafford Act was written, it was not drafted with the understanding that it would be used for a prolonged disaster declaration. As Americans, we generally comply with Executive Orders because of an immediate threat to our health or safety – which we did, but that time has passed.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, we have vaccinated over 68% of our population age 12 and up – a choice that was left up to each individual or parent/guardian. Given the controversy often associated with how positivity rates are calculated, there is one thing for certain. The curve in Madison County started to flatten in February of 2021 and has gone down even further since. The numbers now are “marginal” at best.
At this time, I am aware of at least 8 other districts or counties in Illinois that have already taken bold action by protecting the rights of every parent, student, teacher, and staff member in their community by not removing an individuals rights to wear a mask, receive a vaccine, or get tested but rather not FORCE them to take such actions against their will.
Currently, there are NO laws that grant the Illinois State Board of Education the authority to enforce IDPH guidance and threaten local districts. Yes, you may have heard that ISBE has sent letters to these districts telling them they are in non-compliance by violating a law that currently does not exist. The law ISBE reference’s in their letter is currently a bill (HB2789). Clearly, the administrators at ISBE need to attend a CIVCS class hosted by the educators of the TRIAD school district to understand a bill is not a law. As a result, ISBE has had to retract many of these letters.
Today, I stand here to speak up for the rights of:
- The child with special needs that struggles to understand social cues and must rely on facial expression for understanding.
- The child who fears those behind the mask and the fear of the virus that has been bestowed upon them.
- The child who feels claustrophobic with a mask on and gets distracted within their learning environment because they are uncomfortable.
- The child who has sensory issues and increased anxiety associated with COVID restrictions such as masking.
- The child who struggles to complete phonemic awareness activities especially when learning to read.
- The child who has experienced adverse medical conditions related to masking and is subjected to bullying and harassment from teachers and peers when brought up.
- The faculty and staff who are afraid to speak up out of fear of retribution.
- The parent, student, faculty, or staff members that choose to wear a mask or not wear a mask; get vaccinated or choose not to get vaccinated; receive a COVID test, or choose not to get tested.
As of today, many states have lifted all COVID restrictions in schools. However, ISBE has yet to provide updated guidance associated with the 2021-2022 school year – and frankly, that guidance is not needed. ISBE lacks the authority to enforce such guidance – which places the authority in the hands of each local school board.
Today, I challenge you to be BOLD. It is your constitutional duty to protect the rights of every parent, student, teacher, and staff member by ensuring everyone’s personal choice and civil liberties are honored by removing all restrictions related to masking, vaccine requirements, social distancing, and COVID testing. The choice should be left with each individual without fear of retaliation or persecution.
You have the authority and the ability to set the example for other school boards in Madison County and across the State of Illinois. This decision is in your hands. Be BOLD and let’s get our schools back to normal.
Contact the TRIAD school board at: Triad.Board@tcusd2.org