SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Education Association (IEA) President Kathi Griffin released the following statement after a ruling by Sangamon County Judge Raylene Grischow on the temporary restraining order (TRO) that would prohibit enforcement of face masks, vaccination, and Covid testing mandates.
“This decision has the potential to shut our schools down, effectively closing our school buildings and perhaps being potent enough to stop in person learning altogether. We’ve been able to have students in classrooms all over the state for this school year and last and that’s because public health safety measures have been taken that follow the advice of scientists and health care professionals. Without those safety measures in place, we risk forcing thousands of teachers, education employees and students to be out sick or forced into quarantine.
The teacher and education employee shortage is at a crisis level. Schools are shutting down because they do not have enough healthy employees to safely hold classes even though staff continue to give up their plan time and lunches to cover classes. The science is there: masking, along with vaccines, testing, social distancing and quarantining, are the best ways to protect against the virus. Removing any of these protections would be detrimental to our students and staff safety and will almost certainly force schools across the state to close because of a staffing shortage. Omicron is proof to us that though we may be done with the virus, the virus is not done with us.
Keeping students in the classroom is so important, but only if the environment is safe. The judge’s ruling today calls into question the safety of schools across the state and we will support all efforts to stop its immediate implementation while state and district defendants pursue an appeal. Keeping learning and working conditions safe inside schools is imperative to keep our communities safe and our school buildings open for in person learning. ”
At 135,000 members strong, the Illinois Education Association (IEA) is the largest union in Illinois. The IEA represents PreK-12 teachers outside the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty and support staff, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.