SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) President Dan Montgomery and Illinois Education Association (IEA) President Kathi Griffin issued the joint statement welcoming Governor Pritzker’s vaccine mandate announcement for educators and school staff. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, our unions have worked hard to protect students, teachers, staff, and communities by calling for safe working conditions and health mitigations to help stop the spread of COVID. We know the best place for students to learn is in classrooms made safe through public health strategies that work. With the Delta variant surging, case numbers in Illinois on the rise, and more children now getting sick, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) and the Illinois Education Association (IEA) support Governor Pritzker’s vaccine mandate for educators and staff in K-12 and higher education.
“The surge of COVID-19 cases in our state reminds us that this vaccine mandate is a public health imperative. To implement it properly, widespread education and access to vaccines will be essential. For members who cannot, or will not, get vaccinated, we are glad to see the governor has implemented at least once a week COVID testing.
“We are committed to helping our locals negotiate the terms and implementation of the vaccine mandate and other safety policies in school districts, colleges, and universities statewide. Collaborative discussions between our unions and employers are critically necessary to ensure that our members’ concerns are addressed and that they have a voice in how safety policies are applied. “The vaccine mandate will help provide the greatest possible level of safety for those who learn and work in our schools, colleges, and institutions, especially as part of a layered approach that includes face masks, physical distancing, regular handwashing, adequate building ventilation, and consistent COVID testing of students, teachers, faculty, and staff. Now that these same mitigation factors will apply to higher education institutions, it will help our state keep our young adults and those who teach and work with them, safe and healthy. “As educators, we understand the vital role we play in providing accurate, science-based information about COVID and vaccinations to combat myths and misinformation. Here is the truth: Vaccines work. Vaccines are safe. And vaccines save lives. The action taken today by Governor Pritzker is what we need so our school year can continue in person. It’s the best course of action for the education of our state’s youth.”
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The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest union. IEA represents Pre K-12 teachers outside the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide. The Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) represents 103,000 teachers and paraprofessionals in PreK-12 school districts throughout Illinois, faculty and staff at Illinois' community colleges and universities, public employees under every statewide elected constitutional officer, and retirees.