A new Executive Order issued by Gov. Pritzker gives schools two additional weeks to implement his COVID-19 vaccine-or-test mandate. Still, school administrators across the state are scrambling to meet the new Sept. 19 deadline.
On Aug. 26, Gov. Pritzker issued Executive Order 2021-20, which stated that all schools, public and private, must require teachers, staff, and administrators to either get vaccinated or be tested at least once a week. This order gave schools a deadline of Sept. 5 to implement a testing procedure for unvaccinated employees.
After school superintendents expressed grave concerns about the possibility of getting a testing process and system up and running in just 10 days, the Governor issued yet another Executive Order extending the deadline by two weeks.
Senator Sue Rezin said that while she appreciates the extra time given to schools, she fears that 24 days still isn’t sufficient time for school officials to implement and turn around a testing program—something no superintendent has prior experience doing.
SHIELD, the University of Illinois’ COVID-19 saliva testing program, is available for schools to use; however, SHIELD has said that it takes up to six weeks to onboard schools into its program.
School officials are also growing concerned that the Illinois State Board of Education has yet to issue guidance on the Governor’s Executive Order, despite it being more than two weeks since the order was issued.
Sen. Rezin says the Governor needs to provide Illinois’ valued community education administrators with more time, guidance and resources to get a compliant testing system up and running.