Collinsville parents crowd school board meeting after only some students have optional masking

Published: Feb. 7, 2022 at 10:58 PM CST
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COLLINSVILLE, Ill. (KMOV.com) -- School districts across the Metro East are changing COVID-19 mitigations this week following an Illinois Circuit Judge’s ruling on masking, testing and quarantining.

Friday, the judge approved a temporary restraining order (TRO) against those types of mandates inside some Metro East school districts. However, some schools still have them in place.

Monday night, dozens of parents gathered outside the Collinsville School Board’s headquarters before their special session, voicing their concerns about the district’s change in policy. Both Collinsville and Edwardsville districts are choosing to only apply the TRO to those families involved in the lawsuit.

“This district and all the other districts that refuse to unmask our children, your superintendents need to be fired,” Megan Cunningham said.

Cunningham is the founder of Speak for Students, an organization focused on making masks optional in schools across Illinois. She and dozens of Collinsville families held signs and chanted outside the board meeting before it started. A large majority of parents there Monday night asked the school for change.

“We spoke to our legal counsel and got their advice. In their opinion, the TRO only applied to the five families named as plaintiffs, so that is what we had honored that TRO based on the circuit court,” Mark Skertich said.

Skertich, superintendent for Collinsville Schools, said they don’t want to be stuck in the middle of the masking decision. However, parents said they think the school’s current decision is unfair and they want all students and teachers to have a choice. Some said they would’ve added all students to the lawsuit had they known this would be the outcome.

“We could have put every single one on there had we known how the district would act,” Collinsville parent Natasha Box said.

Thirty minutes into the meeting, where public comment was on the agenda, board members tried to go into closed session. Two board members even tried walking out of the meeting until the board president told them to sit down. After parents realized the board was trying to go into a closed session, they argued back and forth for several minutes, some even yelling.

“I hope that by March 1 we’re moving forward and considering all of these things, because I don’t think doing the same things we’ve been doing for the last two years is going to serve our students, our parents, or our teachers and staff,” another parent said.

Out of the several dozen parents at the meeting, only one spoke in support of the school board.