Two DuPage County private schools are among the latest to join a surging number of public and private schools in Illinois being slapped with sanctions this week for refusing to comply with Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s school mask mandate.
Bethany Lutheran School in Naperville and Lutheran School of St. Luke in Itasca on Thursday were listed as “nonrecognized” for noncompliance with the mask mandate, according to the Illinois State Board of Education.
The state board listed a total of 36 public school districts and seven private schools as being sanctioned for noncompliance with the governor’s mask mandate — a jump of more than 30% from the day before.
At least one Illinois public school district and several private schools on the list have advised ISBE they intend to comply with the mandate, including Timothy Christian Schools in Elmhurst, whose status was restored to “recognized” last week.
In an Aug. 18 letter to Bethany Lutheran School Principal Erin Dunwell, ISBE Superintendent Carmen Ayala said officials had verified the Naperville private school was not complying with the mask mandate, resulting in ISBE “removing your school’s status as a recognized nonpublic school, effective immediately.”
People are also reading…
As a result, the school will be ineligible to participate in Illinois High School Association and Illinois Elementary School Association sanctioned sports and unable to participate in the Invest in Kids Act tax scholarship program, she wrote.
Officials at Bethany Lutheran and Lutheran School of St. Luke, both of which enroll children in prekindergarten through eighth grade, were not immediately available for comment Thursday.
ISBE spokeswoman Jackie Matthews said when officials receive an unverified complaint about a district or nonpublic school, they first reach out to the superintendent or school leader directly and ask them to either confirm or correct the information within 24 hours.
While public school districts placed on probation are required to submit a corrective plan to the regional superintendent of schools and Ayala within 60 days, private schools do not receive a similar probationary period before their recognition is revoked because of a different recognition process under the law for private and public schools, Matthews said.
In her letter to Bethany Lutheran on Wednesday, Ayala said state officials “do not take this action lightly.”
“The purpose of the universal indoor masking requirement is to ensure that all students can safely attend school in-person this fall,” Ayala wrote. “We know that consistent and correct mask use is the simplest, most effective way to keep students safely in school, where they can learn and grow to their fullest potential. And masks work best when everyone wears one.”