North Mac Student Protest and Move to Remote Learning Results in Court Case

By Benjamin Cox on August 31, 2021 at 6:36pm

A northern Macoupin County school is moving to full remote learning and cancelling all extracurricular activities due to a large number of COVID-19 cases.

North Mac Community Unified School District 34 Superintendent Jay Goble sent out a voice mail to parents of North Mac High School on Monday afternoon informing them that the school would be entering full remote learning for an indefinite amount of time.

The changes came on the same day that about 50 students and a few staff members at North Mac High School walked out of class to protest the North Mac School District’s COVID-19 testing and quarantine policies. The walkout stemmed from six players on the North Mac High School football team getting exposed to COVID-19 on Monday, August 23rd.

In order to play football against Riverton on Saturday, some of the players went and got rapid COVID-19 tests at White Oaks Mall in Springfield. The results came back negative, but the North Mac School District said the tests wouldn’t work to clear the students because the tests needed to happen on campus. Students had police called on them and the high school principal warned students against the walk out, according to a report from WICS Newschannel 20.

According to the voicemail sent out by Goble on Monday, “Currently there are 9 positive cases at North Mac High School and 118 students being quarantined, which is over 30% of the entire student body.” Goble says the quarantine and testing measures are directly from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the school is simply following protocols. Goble also has said that the remote learning call was not because of the staged walk-out. The Illinois State Board of Education has placed 60 districts on probation since Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a mask mandate on all schools on August 4th for not being in compliance with IDPH and the mask mandate protocols.

According to Macoupin County Court records today, four sets of parents have filed for a temporary restraining order against the school district’s policies for both quarantine and for the move to remote learning. The families have also requested a declaratory judgment of relief in a separate filing. The TRO and judgment name both the school district and Goble as plaintiffs. The families are being represented by Attorney Thomas DeVore. A hearing was held today in Carlinville at 2PM, with several of the families and students from the previous day’s walk out holding a similar protest at the courthouse prior to the hearing. 7th Circuit Judge April Troemper heard preliminary arguments in the case. However, a ruling on both the TRO and judgment have not been currently been released.

This is a developing story. We will continue to provide more information when it becomes available.