It is the one year anniversary of "14 days to flatten the curve." While many COVID-19 precautions have been necessary to keep Illinoisans safe, some have simply destroyed people's livelihoods. I have been calling on Governor Pritzker to allow our schools to fully reopen since the summer of 2020. Governor Pritzker, the Illinois State Board of Education, and the Illinois Department of Public Health recently released guidance to cover the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.  It is imperative that we tell them that we expect them to allow high school commencement ceremonies to occur in as normal a matter as possible, free from the interference of State of Illinois bureaucrats. High school graduations are only two months away—the time is now to make our voices heard. The Governor has marched with thousands of people in the streets and attended massive political celebrations at a time his Administration was telling people to avoid crowds. Our students deserve the opportunity to celebrate an accomplishment they have worked for years to complete. Sign this letter to let Governor Pritzker know your children deserve to walk at their graduation in 2021!

Dear Governor Pritzker, Superintendent Ayala, and Director Ezike,

Last Spring, we were extremely disappointed when the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Public Health substituted their judgement for that local health officials, education professionals, and parents by prohibiting indoor high school commencement exercises.  That disappointment turned to extreme anger when we observed that the City of Chicago conducted an in-person, indoor ceremony for fire department graduates during the exact same time frame.

This year, we respectfully request that you not repeat last year’s policy that took away a graduation ceremony from so many of our children.  We recognize the serious health threats posed by COVID-19, but we also trust that our local leaders are capable of assessing the threat and implementing appropriate safety protocols.  Those local leaders are directly elected by us and accountable to us.  We want them to making the decisions about what is safe for our children, families, and communities.  We do not feel it is appropriate for the Illinois State Board of Education or the Illinois Department of Public Health to issue guidance that will prevent our children from having the graduation ceremony they deserve.

A high school graduation or commencement exercise is a milestone, not only for our students, but also the communities that support them.  It is one of the events that unites us as Americans and Illinoisans.  We hope that you will agree with us and refrain from interfering in these unifying, uplifting events.  Thank you for your consideration.


Paul Schimpf

347 signatures

Will you sign?