Pritzker Pushes New COVID Legislation for Teachers

During the week, the Senate narrowly passed Gov. Pritzker’s new proposal designed to help teachers who have been vaccinated and punish those who haven’t been.

Last fall, the General Assembly passed by overwhelming majorities bipartisan legislation to help teachers who had a run out of sick time due to very strict state quarantine rules for COVID-19 exposure. Despite the strong support from lawmakers and teachers themselves, the Governor took it upon himself to veto the popular bill and instead ram his own proposal through the legislature.

The Governor’s proposal, House Bill 1167, retroactively restores already-used sick days to teachers who missed work during the 2021-2022 school year due to COVID-19 rules. There’s one big catch, however. The legislation only applies to teachers who are fully vaccinated.

Teachers will have until five weeks after the effective date of the legislation to receive the required doses to be considered fully vaccinated. The legislation would take effect immediately once signed into law. The first and second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations are recommended to be given 3-4 weeks apart, meaning teachers would have to act soon once the bill is signed.
Critics of the legislation have called it a “backdoor vaccine mandate” and many are left wondering why it is necessary as the pandemic is ending.

Senator Sue Rezin says that it’s not fair to pit teachers against each other by giving different benefits based on their vaccination status. She added that vaccinated individuals can contract and spread COVID-19, so it doesn’t make sense to put the entire burden of school quarantines on the backs of unvaccinated teachers.

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