Masks Required for Kindergarten to Grade 12 Schools in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois – Gov. JB Pritzker has said all students and staff in kindergartens through grade 12 will be required to wear masks. He made the announcement this afternoon.

The requirement includes child care centers across the state. The new requirement follows CDC guidelines that all students, teachers and staff wear a mask indoors, whether or not they have been vaccinated.

“We must all take immediate and urgent action,” Governor Pritzker said.

He said people are dying who don’t have to die. He went on to say that the Delta variant infects the younger population at a higher rate. Governor Pritzker said 12% of COVID hospitalizations in the state are people 29 and under.

Governor Pritzker said too few school districts have chosen to follow CDC guidelines to keep students and staff safe.

He praised districts like Edwardsville and a handful of others that have already adopted masking requirements.

Governor 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 that there is also a lower vaccination rate for 12-17 year olds.

Governor Pritzker said without these measures there would likely be many more outbreaks than schools have seen in the second half of the last school year.

Masking requirements will also apply to students participating in indoor sports. Masks will not be necessary for student-athletes playing outdoor sports where the virus is less transmissible.

The state will provide COVID testing to all school districts and face masks will be available.

The Illinois Teachers’ Federation welcomes the governor’s mask tenure.

State Representative Charlier Meier (R-Okawville) released a statement saying he believed decisions made by the governor should be made by local authorities.

The governor also announced his intention to require all state employees working in collective facilities to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by October 4. This covers employees of social services, veterans affairs, corrections and juvenile justice departments working in collective facilities.

The state is also demanding universal masking in private long-term care facilities and strongly encourages owners of private facilities to join the state in adopting vaccination requirements.

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