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State’s COVID-19 Testing Requirement for Unvaccinated School Personnel Has Ended

Education K-12 Education

Since September 2021, Governor J.B. Pritzker has required via executive order that unvaccinated school personnel undergo weekly testing for COVID-19 in order to continue working in a school.  As of today, that requirement has been lifted by the Governor.

Yesterday, the Governor issued a press release announcing the change.  In the release, his office stated “[a]s part of his continuing plan to carefully unwind the state’s COVID-19 executive orders, Governor Pritzker today updated testing requirements for school and childcare personnel, rescinding the requirement that unvaccinated employees in these sectors test . . . This change goes into effect Friday and is made on the advice of medical experts, based on their careful consideration of the current conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic and is in line with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance.”

As noted in the release as well, the CDC no longer requires routine testing in schools regardless of an employee’s vaccination status.  The federal agency continues, however, to recommend schools consider instituting testing at times of high risk in the community, such as upon return from school breaks.  The Governor’s release noted “Illinois schools and childcare centers are urged to consider these suggestions when planning testing and prevention strategies.”

Many districts currently have in place a memorandum of understanding (“MOU”) with their union(s) addressing a vaccination and/or testing mandate for staff.  Given the Governor’s most recent action in dropping the State’s mandate, these agreements should immediately be reviewed.  If a district’s MOU is tied to the State’s now-former mandate, then it will likely be of no further effect unless amended.  However, if it is independent of any State requirement, then it will likely remain in force unless re-opened by the parties. 

If you have any questions regarding how the Governor’s announcement yesterday affects your district, please contact your attorney at Franczek P.C.