Edwardsville schools staff being sent home under ‘insubordinate actions’ for not wearing mask

Published: Feb. 8, 2022 at 11:27 PM CST
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EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (KMOV.com) -- Steam is still blowing from some parents over students being separated in Metro East schools because they won’t mask. Even staff members are now being sent home over refusing to mask up. This comes after an Illinois judge approved a temporary restraining order (TRO) halting mask mandates, testing and quarantines in schools.

As schools interpret the TRO differently, students and staff are left with confusion and decisions to be made. A decision Donna Gray, an Edwardsville School District secretary, was forced to make Monday.

“I went in Monday, did my normal turning everything on, unlocking things. [I was told] I could not be there because of the judge’s ruling. It didn’t apply to me because I wasn’t a plaintiff and I could not be at work unless I had a mask on,” Gray explained.

Gray’s worked in an Edwardsville school’s front office for 22 years. She said it was a place she absolutely loved. Monday, she said she was told she was being “insubordinate” for not wearing a mask after the TRO was issued.

“I came home and that was hard,” Gray said.

Hours after Gray left school Monday, she received a letter from school leaders threatening suspension without pay.

“There are people that feel the same way, they’re not saying anything. We knew at the beginning of the year this lawsuit was happening, so we thought ‘Okay we’ll ride it out and see what happens with that,’ thinking once we got the win, this will all be over,” Gray explained.

Edwardsville Community District #7 Schools and Collinsville Community Unit School District #10 are the only two Metro East schools to apply the TRO strictly to those families involved in the lawsuit. It’s a decision that has parents, teachers and other staff in an uproar. Tuesday night, dozens of Edwardsville parents voiced off about this to the Madison County Health Advisory Committee.

“I think it’s time to give the responsibility to our neighbors and choose what’s best for them, and let’s just look after ourselves and choose for ourselves,” one parent said.

An overwhelming amount of people in the meeting Tuesday were in support of making masking a choice. It’s something Gray said she believes is best for the community and for students.

“They’re so afraid they’re going to get sick because they don’t have their mask on and that’s sad. I don’t know what I’m gonna do. I want to go back tomorrow. I miss being at work, I don’t know, Gray said.

We asked Edwardsville district leaders for comment regarding staff members being sent home after not masking up. They said per district policy, they won’t comment publicly on personnel matters. News 4 is told Gray wasn’t the only staff member sent home this week from Edwardsville schools.