Dear Marist Parents,
We are writing to let you know about HB2789, a bill in Springfield that proposes to allow the Illinois Department of Public Health, with the assistance of the Illinois State Board of Education, to create rules and regulations concerning in-person instruction at nonpublic schools — rules related to personal protective equipment, cleaning and hygiene, social distancing, occupancy limits, symptom screening, masks, and onsite isolation protocols. These are the same protocols that Marist High School has successfully implemented – without government oversight – for the 2020-21 school year that allowed us to hold in-person instruction for the entire school year.
The proposed bill provides that upon receipt of a complaint that a school is not complying with the Department’s rules, the Department or local public health department shall investigate the complaint. If upon investigation, a school is found to violate the rules, the Department has the authority to close a classroom, gym, library, lunchroom, or any other school space until such time that the Department determines that the violation or violations have been remedied. Under this proposed new law, in order to provide in-person instruction, nonpublic schools, and public schools will have to follow the requirements for providing in-person instruction adopted by the Department by rule.
Finally, the bill provides that the State Board of Education shall adopt rules to revoke ISBE recognition for nonpublic schools that do not comply with public health requirements established by the Department when the Governor has declared a disaster due to a public health emergency. Revocation of ISBE recognition status would impact the ability of a nonpublic school like Marist High School to compete in IHSA sports.
This bill (if passed) would give the health department control over a private school like Marist High School. The bill empowers the health department to create one-size-fits-all guidelines and metrics for schools and the authority to shut down any school outside of its guidelines and metrics, thus forcing remote learning.
This bill could be dangerous to the entire private school movement. This bill would give the government a foot-in-the-door to all nonpublic schools. As a faith-based, religious, educational institution, we have avoided government and political entanglement. This separation is important.
Please familiarize yourself with HB2789. If you oppose the bill, then please voice your opposition sometime today, May 26 prior to 1:30 PM when the bill is scheduled for Executive Hearing. You may oppose the bill in two ways:
- File a Witness Slip on the General Assembly website.
- For Identification, fill out personal info (for Firm/Business or Agency, type “Self”)
- For Representation, you can leave blank or type “Self”
- For Position, click the button for “Opponent“
- For Testimony, check “Record of Appearance Only”
- Click “I Agree to the ILGA Terms of Agreement”
- Click “Create Slip”
You may also send a letter to your legislative leaders by clicking this link.
As of the writing of this letter, there are several thousand witness slip opponents to HB2789, including individuals from state and local agencies, state and local education representatives, public and private school representatives, and many, many individuals like yourselves.
Larry Tucker ’79