State Watch

Illinois Gov. Pritzker to make masks mandatory for schools, some state workers: report

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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) on Wednesday is expected to issue a statewide mask mandate for all prekindergarten through high school students as well as a vaccine mandate for employees in high-risk settings.

Sources close the situation told the Chicago Tribune of Pritzker’s decision, adding that employees in high congregate settings such as state prisons and veterans homes will be required to get vaccinated.

The Hill has reached out to Pritzker’s office for comment.

The Tribune noted that Illinois’s largest school district, Chicago Public Schools, has already issued a mask mandate of its own, but other districts have remained firm in keeping masks optional.

Dan Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, told the Tribune that a mask mandate for schools is a “prudent course of action,” adding that it’s “important for us to stay open and have a more normal school year.”

“I think most of us will agree that wearing a mask is a small price to pay to stay healthy,” Montgomery said. He pointed to the need for health safety amid the spread of the highly infectious delta variant of the coronavirus. He also reiterated that the coronavirus vaccine has not been approved for children under the age of 12. 

The Tribune reported that the Illinois Education Association also supported a mask mandate for schools, with organization President Kathi Griffin saying, “Let’s pull together and take care of one another.”

News of the impending mask mandate comes amid new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued last month that fully vaccinated people should wear a mask indoors if they are in areas where the virus is surging. 

The guidance also stated that people in K-12 schools, including students and staff, should wear masks indoors.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, around 57 percent of its eligible population is fully vaccinated, while 73.1 percent has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Tags Face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic Face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States Illinois J. B. Pritzker mask mandate vaccine mandate

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