Governor J.B. Pritzker has mandated all schools in the state to follow masking requirements indoors today. He also has mandated that all state employees that work in congregate living facilities be vaccinated.
Masks will also be required in all long-term care facilities. Pritzker says the state needs to protect the state’s most vulnerable populations: “Because the vaccine has not yet been approved for children under 12, because there are many people who are reluctant across some of the [school] districts to adopt the CDC’s guidance; effective immediately all P-12 schools and day cares in Illinois must follow the CDC guidance of universal masking inside regardless of vaccine status. My goal has always been to safely bring all kids back into the classroom at the start of the school year.”
Pritzker also announced that IDPH is making testing at all schools free and making masks available to all districts that need them. Athletes who participate in outdoor sports will not be required to wear masks during competition, however, all indoor sports will require them. Pritzker says that individual districts can impose their own specific mandates beyond the CDC guidance if they wish.
Pritzker also asks the vaccinated population to talk to those in their family and social circles who have not been vaccinated to urge them to get the shot.
The indoor masking mandate has received support in released statements from both the Illinois Education Association and the Illinois Federation of Teachers.
Pritzker says state workers in congregate living settings have fundamentally let those in their care down by refusing to be vaccinated and now must get the vaccine as a term of their employment: “Illinois will require vaccinations for all state employees who work in congregate facilities such as our Veterans’ Homes, our corrections facilities, and the Department of Human Services’ Developmental Centers, and psychiatric hospitals. Our most vulnerable residents, such as our veterans, who can’t live on their own, and adults living with developmental disabilities have not choice but to live amongst these workers. By and large, residents of these state-run facilities have done what they can do to protect themselves by getting vaccinated, and yet many of the long-term care facilities’ employees have themselves not been vaccinated. They run the risk of carrying the virus into work with them, and then, it’s the residents who are ending up seriously sick, hospitalized, or worse. It’s a breach of safety. It’s fundamentally wrong, and in Illinois, it’s going to stop.”
AFSCME Union leaders have yet to release a statement on the mandate. Pritzker says state employees will have 2 months to comply with the vaccination mandate before action will be taken.
Pritzker says that universal masking will take place in all public and private long-term care facilities: “Finally, I’m announcing a universal mass mandate in all long term care facilities all long term care facilities across Illinois, including those that are privately owned and operated. This means everyone vaccinated or not, must wear a mask when you’re in a facility with long term care patients and residents. This is already standard practice in much of the industry. But while the Delta variant rages on, I want to leave no doubt on the need for compliance.”
All of the other mandates go into effect immediately.