SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Gov. JB Pritzker says all students and staff at Pre-K through 12th-grade schools will be required to masks. He made the announcement this afternoon.
The requirement includes daycares across the state. The new requirement follows the guidance by the CDC that all students, teachers, and staff wear a mask indoors whether they’ve had the vaccine or not.
“We all must take immediate and urgent action,” said Gov. Pritzker.
He said people are dying who don’t have to die. He went on to say the Delta variant is infecting the younger population at a greater rate. Gov. Pritzker said 12% of COVID hospitalizations in the state are people 29-years-old and younger.
Gov. Pritzker said far too few school districts have chosen to follow the CDC guidelines for keeping students and staff safe.
He commended districts like Edwardsville and a handful of others who have already adopted masking requirements.
Gov. Pritzker says Illinois is home to 1.8 million children under the age of 12 who are not yet eligible for the vaccine. He pointed out there is also a lower rate of vaccination for those ages 12-17.
Gov. Pritzker said that without these measures, there would likely be many more outbreaks than schools saw in the latter half of the last school year.
The masking requirements will also apply to students playing indoor sports. Masks won’t be necessary for student-athletes playing sports outside where the virus is less transmissible.
The state will be supplying COVID tests to all school districts and masks will be available.
The Illinois Federation of Teachers welcomes the governor’s mask mandate.
State Rep. Charlier Meier (R-Okawville) released a statement saying he believes the decisions made by the governor should be made by local officials.
The governor also announced his intent to require all state employees working in congregate facilities to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by October 4th. This covers employees at the Departments of Human Services, Veterans’ Affairs, Corrections, and Juvenile Justice working in congregate facilities.
The state is also requiring universal masking in private long-term care facilities and strongly encourages owners of private facilities to join the state in adopting vaccination requirements.