Press Release

SPRINGFIELD – Today, Gov. JB Pritzker held a news conference in Chicago in which he announced a proposal he will introduce to the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules to give local law enforcement and public health departments more options when trying to enforce mandates on face coverings and social distancing, including in schools. Illinois Education Association President Kathi Griffin spoke at the news conference. Below are her remarks:

“I am Kathi Griffin. I was an elementary school teacher in Schaumburg School District 54 for 30 years. Now I am the president of the IEA.

There isn’t anything we want more than to begin the school year with in-person learning. We miss our students. We know that in-person learning is best for our students, but each school district must develop a practical, enforceable safety plan that follows the guidelines that have been given to us by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Illinois Department of Public Health and Illinois State Board of Education, and paying attention to the COVID-19 data of positive cases in your community, in order for that to happen.

And, if a district intends to offer in-person learning, there are a few guidelines that must be followed for everyone’s safety. Those guidelines are quite simple: everyone should wear a face covering; maintain six feet of social distancing; wash your hands; temperatures should be checked before arriving at school, or at school; cleaning and sanitation procedures should be developed following the recommendations of the AAP, CDC, IDPH and local health departments; and make sure that everyone has appropriate personal protective equipment. Our custodians, school nurses and staff who work with students who have special needs, and some of our students, will need different PPE than many classroom teachers.

If a school is not able to implement, follow, support and enforce these guidelines, they should begin the school year remotely.

This is not how we wanted to start the school year with our kids. I say ‘our kids’ because they become part of our extended family, part of our heart when they are in our classroom. We care so much about them. We celebrate their successes. And we support them when they struggle. We will provide teaching and they will learn this year. But we want them to be safe.

I ask you to follow these simple safety guidelines because we care about our families, our neighbors, our communities and, most of all, for more than 2 million students in our state.”

IEA President Kathi Griffin’s full remarks are available for view here.

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The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.