Gov. Pritzker changes mask mandates, vaccination requirements for teachers


Kassem Ossman

Pritzker announces a mask mandate regardless of vaccination status to slow the spread of the new Delta variant

On Aug. 26, Gov. J. B. Pritzker issued new rules regarding indoor masking and educational employee vaccination and testing requirements. Masks will be required indoors regardless of vaccination status, teachers will also be required to either get the COVID-19 vaccination or submit to weekly testing or more frequently if ordered by the local health department. The mask mandate will start on Aug. 29 and teacher vaccination requirements will be effective Sep. 5.

Pritzker held a conference talking about the statistics of unvaccinated people as well as his steps for the state.

“Nearly all Illinoisans who are hospitalized with COVID are the Illinoisans who are not vaccinated, and those hospitalizations are only increasing. From January through July 98% of our cases are among the unvaccinated, 96% of our hospitalizations are among the unvaccinated people, 95% of our deaths are among unvaccinated people. We are continuing to rely on experts at the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and IDPH [Illinois Department of Public Health], but you don’t need to be an epidemiologist to understand what’s going on here, this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Pritzker said.

Steps in the past have been taken to stop the spread of COVID and Delta variants such as vaccination requirements for state employees as well as mandates by private employers to the requirement of masks in P-12 schools, daycares and long-term care facilities.

English teacher Justin Matkovich talked about why he thought Pritzker changed the vaccine requirements.

“I think the fact that it’s mandatory has to do with the fact that at least Pfizer has been FDA [ Food and Drug Administration] approved as a vaccine and with it being approved it just becomes something that is not a theoretical thing or in testing. In schools students have to get vaccinated, not just for COVID but for other things already so I think it’s the first step in opening up vaccine requirements for COVID,” Matkovich said.

Senior Ryan Rosignal spoke out on his perspective of the mask mandate.

“I think that it makes a lot of sense, while people who have been vaccinated are at a significantly lower chance of getting severely ill, we still have to make sure that we are doing what is best for the entire community and not just ourselves,” Rosignal said.

Matkovich also spoke about why he chose to get the vaccine.

“The fact that we have a vaccine and the fact that I can get the vaccine aleves my stress so I don’t have to necessarily worry about other people as much, and I know that there is still a chance of getting it but at the end of the day all you can do is what is best for you and protect yourself the way you want to and I was able to do that so I am okay with that,” Matkovich said.