DELAND — A DeLand-Weldon school teacher is fighting mask and mandated COVID-19 vaccinations in Piatt County Circuit Court, as well as the weekly testing required for employees who are not vaccinated.
Janelle Hermann, an instructor in the school district for 16 years, has filed for an injunction and temporary restraining order, asking the court to ban the school district from enforcing state mask and vaccine mandates for school staff unless a quarantine is issued by the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department or Illinois Department of Public Health.
“If we continue to comply, it will only get worse,” Hermann said to the school board at Wednesday night's meeting.
The case is set to go to court in Piatt County on Nov. 2.
She spoked to the school board on Wednesday, not about the lawsuit, but about the situation in general.
The rural DeLand resident said the rules set people apart and are discriminatory, things that she has fought against as a teacher.
“From the moment that these mandates hit, I felt set apart because I chose not to put something in my body that I didn't want. Something, just because it is right for one person, doesn't make it right for another,” Hermann told the school board.
She also relayed her personal story to the board, one where she described going into a tailspin after two miscarriages in three years, then fought for five years what she called “PTSD” that drained her physically and mentally.
“My mind and body were out of control. My immune system was completely out of whack as it aggressively attacked anything that entered my body,” she said, noting that is why she is opting not to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
“This story is important as to why I will not put something in my body that could possibly trigger an immune reaction. I will not entertain the idea of something that could put me back in a deep dark place. I'm good now.”
The request for an injunction, filed in Piatt County on Sept. 24 — along with a subsequent call for a temporary restraining order — also asks the court to ban DeLand-Weldon from forcing weekly COVID-19 testing on unvaccinated staff members.
It also seeks to extend to the mandate to all staff members, with the lawsuit listing Hermann as the defendant, “as well as on behalf of all other person similarly situated.”
DeLand-Weldon school board members did not comment about the Hermann case in particular at Wednesday night's meeting, but responded to an audience that for the most part agreed with Hermann.
Joshua Shofner said he was in favor of local control, but said it could cripple the district if they buck state mandates, which could result in decertification and no IHSA-sanctioned sports.
“Are you willing to stand the repercussions? It could decimate this school district,” Shofner said.
Jennifer Roos, another board member, said it has been difficult to balance being a mom and a school board member.
“I am not just sitting here, nodding my head,” Roos said. “I don't take these discussions lightly. I don't want our school to go away.
“I'm trying as a mother. I'm trying as a board member. I'm trying as a community member.”
In the court case with Hermann, the school board on Oct. 1 filed a motion asking the court to add Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois State Board of Education as defendants in the case.