DPS #170 Logo

January 27, 2022

 Dear Staff, Students, Parents, and Community Members,

 Over the last two years, Dixon Public Schools has respected the rule of law in its decision-making regarding state guidance, mandates, and executive orders related to the pandemic.   During this time there have been numerous changes at all levels, and our priority has always been to maintain a safe learning and work environment that keeps students in school, and provides a learning environment  optimal for all students.  This letter is to inform you of another event that could potentially impact school districts in Illinois in the coming days and weeks.

 There is a current court case regarding wearing face masks in schools that is anticipated to have a final decision in the next few days.  The outcome of this judgement could have an impact on all school districts throughout the State and expressly involves Governor JB Pritzker’s Executive Orders relating to mask and COVID exclusion rules.  It is anticipated that the judge will make one of the following decisions:


  • Uphold the Governor’s Orders and maintain the requirements;
  • Make facemasks optional for the students, but only for those involved in the lawsuit. 
  • Make facemasks optional, but only for the school districts that were involved in the lawsuit.
  • Determine that the Governor’s Executive Orders may not be enforced and make facemasks optional statewide regardless of who was involved in the lawsuit.
  • Allow school districts to locally determine if facemasks are required.

No matter what the outcome is it is anticipated that after the judgement the decision will be taken to the Appellate Court.  

Currently, there is no clear answer as to the direction the judge will go.  Current media and social media coverage is speculative.  When the judge’s decision comes out, the district and our attorney will need time to digest what this means. We also understand there will be mixed feelings no matter what the decision is.  Our community has had members feel strongly for and against masking mandates.  This decision is especially impactful while the Omicron variant is spiking in our community and county.

I wanted to make you aware of this since this is a hot button topic, and you need to be aware of how the district will respond.  We will also need your patience to allow the Board of Education to process the decision and evaluate the next steps.    

DPS #170 is committed to our students, staff, and community.  The Board adopted a Return to Learn plan at the August 2021 board meeting.  Once the Court decision is clear the Board will need time to meet, discuss, and modify its Return to Learn plan.  The Board and administration will reflect on the decision as quickly as we can.  Please be patient as we navigate these uncharted waters and we encourage everyone to remain respectful to staff, students, and each other.   I will keep you informed as information becomes available. 

Finally, we have been made aware that flyers are being circulated for students to participate in “Illinois School-Wide Mask Off” on February 1st.  Parents are being encouraged to send their kids to school mask free to fight the mandate.  Depending on when the decision is made at the court level, we remind you that masks are still required in Dixon Public School buildings. 

I want to thank you for your support and understanding during this unprecedented time.  Our decision making has not been taken lightly, but at all times driven out of respect for the rule of law and a desire to do our part to keep everyone healthy.  Our community is a great place to live, work, and learn and we look forward to continuing this philosophy.

If you have questions, comments, or concerns regarding this topic or the impact it can have on our schools, please feel free to contact me at mempen@dps170.org.


Margo Empen

DPS #170 Superintendent