SPRINGFIELD – Today, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed House Bill 1167 (HB 1167), a negotiated bill, that allows vaccinated teachers and support staff in Illinois schools the ability to take COVID-19 related days off, without penalty, to care for themselves and their children and makes this benefit retroactive to the beginning of the year.
“We want to ensure that our school children see the fewest disruptions to their in-person learning due to the public health crisis,” Gov. Pritzker said. “The bill I signed into law today fulfills that promise by guaranteeing that if a teacher has done their part to keep their classroom safe for their most vulnerable students, they won’t have to worry for a second about their pay or their paid time off should COVID-19 affect their livelihood. At a time when we want to bring people into the education professions, this bill will help Illinois retain and attract teachers and support staff.”
Illinois Education Association (IEA) Member Robert Lugiai, a social studies teacher from Naperville, said was thankful that HB1167 was signed into law today and said this bill applies directly to him.
“When I was sick last year and symptomatic, I went to Walgreens and bought the testing kit. My kit turned in negative, but because I was showing symptoms, I alerted my employer. The school district policy at the time required that I test negative on a PCR test before I could return to school. I got the PCR test and waited three days to get the results – those were sick days I used because my employer required the second test. Because Governor Pritzker is signing this bill today, I will have those three sick days returned to me.”
Lugiai said he had colleagues who were out for 10 days, 20 days and even longer due to exposure, multiple exposures and/or testing positive for the illness.
“We have some support staff and teachers who have exhausted their sick and personal time because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “For example, my husband, a first-year school social worker, had COVID-19 twice and burned through all his sick time. Restoring these days and this lost pay allows education employees some relief through what has been the most stressful time in their careers.”
Lugiai also acknowledged the shortage of education employees around the state and said this bill will help to attract and retain those who have “given so much over the past two years and those who are willing to make the students of Illinois their life’s work.”
The bill applies to all public school, community college and university employees who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or who has received the required doses within five weeks of the effective date of the act. The new law also allows for paycheck protection for all hourly employees in the event of an emergency school closure or e-learning days.
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.