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Gov. Pritzker's office denies rumors of school shutdowns, student vaccine mandates

Governor JB Pritzker’s office vehemently denied those rumors saying "there is absolutely no truth to this rumor"

HIGHLAND, Ill. — Illinois Governor JB Pritzker's office is responding to rumors that another vaccine requirement is on the way to your kid’s classroom.

Highland High School currently has 11 confirmed COVID cases, and 1 student in quarantine. 

Considering that Highland High School has an enrollment around 900 many parents say they consider the start of the school year a success.

“It’s nice to see the kids back in school,” said Scott Stehlik.  “We’re able to get out and enjoy sports for the fall.  Kids are enjoying being back in the classroom.”

In his weekly letter to parents Highland Superintendent Michael Sutton said it’s crystal clear that the most difficult challenges are still ahead, and went on to mention that he has heard a rumor that the Governor is talking about a shutdown and mandating vaccines for kids 12 and older.

“As soon as we were eligible for the vaccine, we all got it,” said Stehlik.

Governor JB Pritzker’s office vehemently denied those rumors. In a statement they said: 

“There is absolutely no truth to this rumor, the Governor is not closing down schools. The Governor and the Illinois State Board of Education have worked closely with school districts to ensure the wellbeing of students, teachers and communities by requiring masks, establishing a vaccine mandate for teachers and staff, and ensuring students have access to remote learning if they are required to quarantine. School district leaders have a responsibility to lead with honesty and integrity while putting policies in place to ensure that students can learn and grow in a safe environment.”

Illinois students are already required to get vaccines like polio, measles, and Hepatitis B which are outlined in Illinois Administrative Code.

Changes to the requirements would require drafting a rule that goes through the rulemaking process and is approved by members of the General Assembly on the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

We asked parents if they would be on board with the state adding the COVID vaccine to the Illinois Administrative Code down the road.

“I would consider it but I wouldn’t just jump right onboard with it,” said Chiyo Palen.

“I would be in favor of it one day down the line,” said Tammy Mathias. “I think it’s just too new and too soon to tell.”

“We’ve got to get to the point where we have some immunity in the population and the vaccine is the best way to get it,” said Stehlik.  “If that keeps the kids in school and keeps everybody healthy, I’m all for it.”

At this time there are no bills pending in the legislature that would require students to get vaccinated.

Illinois teachers have been given until Sept. 14 to get vaccinated or be subject to weekly tests.

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