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Local educators react to Gov. Pritzker's vaccination requirement

"Our goal is to have kids be in school 5 days a week,” said Edwardsville Superintendent Patrick Shelton

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. — Masks are already required in Illinois schools, but now Illinois Governor JB Pritzker is hoping to add more safety measures by requiring all teachers and staff to get vaccinated.

"Our goal is to have kids be in school 5 days a week,” said Edwardsville Superintendent Patrick Shelton.

Edwardsville Superintendent Patrick Shelton isn’t shy when discussing what’s going on in his schools.

"Like every district, we've had COVID cases,” said Shelton.

While other districts have struggled with quarantines, Edwardsville has kept community spread to a minimum by following the state mask mandate.

"I think every educator would tell you they don't like wearing masks,” said Shelton. “I don't like wearing masks in the office. I don't like wearing masks anywhere else. I do like making sure that our environment is safe for students and staff."

In an effort to double down on school safety teachers across Illinois now have two options: get vaccinated or pass weekly COVID tests.

"If the teachers in the school are either getting the precautions of taking the vaccine or getting tested, the community will know that the teacher isn't going to be spreading any of the virus to their child when they're in school,” said Illinois Education Association President Kathi Griffin.

Illinois Education Association President Kathi Griffin said internal polling shows nearly 90% of IEA members are already vaccinated, but she still expects some pushback.

"We do know that there are parts of Illinois that people have a different opinion than others,” said Griffin.

That’s why Shelton believes Gov. Pritzker did the right thing by giving teachers options.

"I do think the governor upped the ante a little bit in terms of encouraging people to get vaccinated, but there is still a choice and I think that's what people will appreciate,” said Shelton.

Gov. Pritzker said that enforcement of the mandate will be up to the Illinois State Board of Education.

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