Opinion: Illinois schools mask mandate lawsuits and protests

In Illinois, parents across the state filed lawsuits against 140 school districts to prohibit a mask mandate on Feb. 4, 2022. Last week, on February 7th, the parents surprisingly won the court case, and school districts were required to permit students with plaintiffs to not wear their masks. This effort was partly inspired after a court case in New York effectively lifted up an indoor mask mandate.

Throughout this past week, the lawsuits provoked many aspects of rebellious attitude from students about masks in general. Every now and then, you see students wearing masks way below their chin or even refusing to attempt wearing one in the first place.

However, this past Friday, they took it one step further. A protest took place in front of Neuqua Valley High School. More than 50 students and parents were gathered together outside of the school to protest all mask mandates from the districts. Many held signs saying “THE TIME IS NOW – Follow The Law – MASK CHOICE,” or even more controversially, “They Can’t Breathe.”

Amongst the anti-mask protesters, there were others who posed for uncanny and ironic pictures in front of the crowd as a light hearted joke. A very outspoken individual went in the crowd with a piece of notebook paper saying “I Love Wearing Masks!”

Personally, I think the protests spark some interesting philosophy on both ends. Those who are against the mask in the name of promoting freedom may be thinking in much smaller terms, but are they inspired by any leading figures in the advocacy of individual rights? Writers such as Ayn Rand would’ve no doubt supported movements like these by also tying it back to her over-arching philosophy of Objectivism, an ideology that claims to support property rights, selfishness, and freedom.

With the school day coming to a start, the student protesters had no choice but to either miss school or continue with their political motives. Many tried going inside the school with the same power of protesting outside but that was stopped rather quickly before they even reached the main hallway by some teachers holding out masks.

So far, many school districts have taken much information at their fingertips into account to make the final decision for the mask mandate inside their schools. District 204 has decided to make masks recommended for both staff and students after much time of deciding and analyzing current data within our area.

This also brings up many questions for those who are pro mandate for masks. Although it is such an arbitrary thing to relate masks to heavy government restriction, a large continuity in many who are pro mask mandate is that many believe in more left leaning concepts such as the existence of systemic racism and the prevalence of police brutality. A common challenge that is brought up is that if left leaning people support clear government expansion such as mandates for masks and vaccines, how will they continue to fight system racism when it has primarily been caused by similar expansions and restrictions with things like the War on Drugs and Terror?