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CHICAGO (CBS) — The school week is starting with more protests to end mask mandates in classrooms, with at least one local district going remote on Monday to avoid the disruptions the protests can cause.

CBS 2’s Marissa Parra reports the continued disputes over whether schools should go mask optional come two weeks before Gov. JB Pritzker lifts the state’s mask mandate in most places, except for schools.

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Fremont School District 79 in the northwest suburbs is going fully remote until further notice, because of protests demanding the option to go maskless at school.

In a statement posted to their website, District 79 said they feared “hese protests would create a substantial disruption” to learning.

North suburban Wilmette saw its own protest with the same request on Monday. Things have been tense between parents who want the option for kids to take off their masks, and the school board, which is keeping a mask requirement in place.

We spoke to parents on both sides

“Nobody likes the masks. Let’s be clear, we all would love to get out of them, and I think we’re super close to being out of them, and we just want to let people do their job, and give us a thoughtful plan to get out of them,” parent Kim Buckley said.

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“We do highly respect the work the board has done, but we’re asking to make a change in the policies that they put together to give parents the choice to decide what is right for their families,” parent Chris Beer said.

In the middle of all of this are the teachers.

Albert Llorens, vice president of the Illinois Education Association – the union representing Wilmette teachers and staff – said the stress has already caused some school board members to quit, and he’s hearing teachers say this is their last year teaching.

“This has been the hardest week some of them have faced in their entire teaching careers, and so that and we were coming into the situation with the teacher shortage, so folks are having to cover the classes of others already; their caseload,” Llorens said.

Earlier this month, a Sangamon County Judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking the state from enforcing Gov. Pritzker’s school mask mandate at more than 140 districts where students and teachers challenged his authority to require masks in schools.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul has appealed that ruling, and is asking the Illinois Appellate Court to lift the temporary restraining order.

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We are expecting an update sometime this week.

Source: CBS Chicago

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