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Illinois Education Association Reacts To Pritzker School Mask Mandate

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On Wednesday, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced a mask mandate for both students and teachers, regardless of vaccination status.

The order is effective immediately and applies to both public and private K-12 schools.

Illinois’ largest education organization, the Illinois Education Association, has come out in favor of the decision.

“We want to be back in school with our students. We so missed working with them in person. And by having a mask mandate, we have a more likely chance of staying open and working through this pandemic,” said Kathi Griffin, president of the Illinois Education Association.

COVID cases have been increasing recently due to the emergence of the more infectious Delta strain. This had led many schools to reverse mask-optional policies set at the beginning of the summer.

“We know that our students struggled when they were not in school,” said Griffin. “Some of them did excel with remote learning, but because it's not only what they've learned, but it's also those social skills, getting along with their peers, being able to work together.”

Parents opposing mask mandates crowded some school board meetings to make their case. Northern Illinois communities saw both pro and anti-mandate events as the school year approaches.

Griffin said if you don’t like the idea of your child wearing a mask at school – it’s time to get vaccinated. She emphasized the more adults who get a shot, the better it’ll be for kids as well.

She also said any vaccine mandates for teachers would have to be locally negotiated.

Athletes and coaches participating in indoor sports must also wear masks.