CPS employee vaccine mandate reinstated by Illinois appellate court

The downstate court’s decision represents a win for CPS and lets officials resume enforcing their vaccine mandate while a lawsuit challenging the policy plays out.

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A glass revolving door with lettering at Chicago Public Schools headquarters.

Sun-Times file

Chicago Public Schools officials can take action against employees who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing, an appellate court ruled this week in vacating a temporary restraining order that had prevented the district from enforcing its policy.

The downstate court’s decision Wednesday represents a win for CPS and lets officials resume enforcing their vaccine mandate while a lawsuit challenging the policy plays out. It’s the latest turn in ongoing court battles over school districts’ rights to enact pandemic safety measures.

“While it may be questionable why only unvaccinated employees are required to take these weekly tests, the tests and the manner defendant makes the tests available to its employees do not appear unreasonable,” wrote Justice John W. Turner of the 4th District Appellate Court in Springfield.

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A CPS spokesperson said in a statement that district has “made the safety and well-being of our students and staff a priority since the onset of the pandemic,” and the ruling “confirms the district’s right to act affirmatively on behalf of our school communities.”

“As of today, more than 90% of CPS employees are vaccinated, demonstrating a shared commitment to keeping our employees, students, and their families safe,” the district said.

Judge Raylene Grischow in downstate Sangamon County earlier this month had issued a temporary restraining order blocking CPS from taking employment action against six teachers who had refused to comply with the vaccination or testing policy.

The six teachers suing the district are represented by attorney Tom DeVore, a Republican candidate for attorney general who has challenged masking and vaccination policies at school systems statewide. DeVore didn’t immediately comment Thursday.

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