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Phase 1B Of Illinois' Vaccine Rollout Begins Soon. When Will Teachers Start Getting Vaccinated?

Spencer Tritt

Illinois K-12 teachers will soon get their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. They’re in Phase1B of the state’s vaccine rollout, which starts on Monday.

Griff Powell is one of DeKalb Public Schools’ interim superintendents. He said they’ve been informed that teachers will start getting their first dose of the vaccine soon.

“According to the county health department, they're talking about mid-February, maybe the last couple of weeks of February, no later than early March,” he said.

Spouses and family members of those educators will not be eligible to get it at the same time.

The health department asked the district to conduct a survey to see how many teachers want to get the vaccine. Around 70-80% said they want to take it.

“We've asked for legal advice. Can we require people to be [vaccinated]? Well, the answer is yes, with some exceptions,” he said. “If you have a religious purpose for not getting vaccinated, or you have a disability that would prevent you from being vaccinated.”

They haven’t required it yet. Powell said they still hope all their teachers volunteer to get it. Their district and the Illinois State Board of Education are encouraging educators to get the vaccine.

School nurses, counselors, speech therapists and social workers -- who have more one-on-one contact with students -- were part of Phase1A. Powell said they got their first shot in the arm last week.

Aside from some special needs students, most of the district is still learning remotely. They’re planning a return to a hybrid in-person schedule in February.

Powell said the school board is hearing a proposal to get rapid antigen tests for when more students return in-person.