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Masks are off in more schools — but not CPS

By Sidney Madden | @sidney_madden_


Gov. JB Pritzker is asking the Illinois Supreme Court to review the appellate court’s decision dismissing his school-mask mandate.

The 4th District Appellate Court’s ruling late Thursday has meant that each district can make its own decision about masks in schools. The ruling comes days after a bipartisan legislative oversight committee declined to renew the Illinois Public Health Department’s emergency rules. The school-mask order expired Feb. 13.

The appellate court said questions surrounding the legality of Pritzker’s mandate were moot because of the legislative committee’s decision. (A downstate judge issued a temporary restraining order against the mandate this month.)

But GOP lawmakers already filed bills to limit the powers of the governor, the Illinois State Board of Education, and IDPH, according to Chalkbeat Chicago. The bills are now in committees. 

  • HB 4083: Schools, districts, and ISBE wouldn’t be able to require students to wear masks. 
  • HB 4575: ISBE wouldn’t be able to remove school district recognition, which affects funding and sport participation.
  • HB 4239: “Religious exemptions” for the COVID-19 vaccine would be expanded.

About 700 of Illinois’ 850 school districts have gone mask-optional or will be soon, according to WBEZ. But CPS is NOT one of them.


After years of money trouble and ownership changes, the Chicago Reader was set to become a nonprofit at the end of 2021. But the transition is now delayed because of a dispute between the Reader’s two owners over whether current publisher Tracy Baim should stay in that role.

The alt-weekly has been an essential part of Chicago’s media landscape in its 50 years. At one point, its classifieds were so coveted that people would steal copies from the printing press before they were distributed. 

Longtime journalist Mark Jacob tells us about the Reader’s significance and why owners should come to an agreement to save the alt.

👉See “The Chicago Reader at 50” at the Newberry Library in Gold Coast through March 5.


▪️ A fire in Albany Park destroyed homes, Ultimate Ninjas Gym, and Twisted Hippo brewpub. But the landlord allegedly has a long history of problems. Donate to the brewery’s recovery. [Block Club Chicago]

▪️ Mayor Lori Lightfoot still has not replaced the city’s top watchdog after Inspector General Joe Ferguson retired in the fall. He told us back then what his successor could expect. [Chicago Tribune; City Cast]

▪️ Chicagoland is home to about 100,000 Ukrainians. They share their worries about war with Russia. [Washington Post]

▪️ The city denied a metal shredder’s permit to move to the Southeast Side. What about other green promises? [Chicago Sun-Times]

▪️ The Ebony test kitchen, the Black American food media center in Chicago for decades, is on display in NYC. [New York Times]

▪️ The California Clipper is coming back Thursday 🍸


Every year, the Golden Apple Foundation honors and recognizes some of the best teachers across the state. This year, nearly half of the finalists are CPS teachers — including one of mine! 

Ms. Boyle was my 10th grade world history teacher at Whitney M. Young High School. The way she hyped us up for the big test with a motivational speech timed to her running playlist was absolutely iconic. 

How lucky are all of us Chicago kids to have had so many great teachers? Congrats to all the finalists 🎉

🗣️ Have a fav teacher you want to shout out? Tell us! Maybe we’ll feature your response here. Email

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