SPRINGFIELD — Gov. JB Pritzker on Monday vetoed a bill that would have provided paid administrative leave to public school and college employees who miss work due to COVID-19-related issues and instead brokered legislation ” commitment” that would provide such a license only to those who are fully vaccinated.
“Vaccines are a vital tool in preventing the deadly effects of COVID-19, and those who take steps to be fully vaccinated against this virus are doing their part to keep everyone safe,” Pritzker said in his veto message. “They deserve to be able to take the time they need to respond to the ongoing devastating impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have on them and their families.”
House Bill 2778 passed the General Assembly during the fall veto session with large bipartisan majorities, 53-1 in the Senate and 92-23 in the House.
Would have provided paid leave for any employee, including support staff and contractors, who missed work because they or someone in their household contracted COVID-19, if they or a family member were forced to stay home because they had been in close contact. with someone who has tested positive, or if they were unable to work because the school building was closed due to COVID-19.
However, to be eligible, the bill provided that the employee must have been vaccinated or have participated in the COVID-19 testing program provided by the district.
In September, Pritzker issued an executive order requiring school staff to get vaccinated or tested weekly. But his veto action on Monday means those who choose not to get vaccinated will not be eligible for paid administrative leave.
Since that bill passed, however, Pritzker said he has been negotiating with teachers’ unions and other groups to negotiate a different package with a stricter vaccination requirement.
“Numerous organizations are affected by this legislation, and my administration has listened carefully to all of them, including legislators and our partners in the Illinois Education Association and the Illinois Federation of Teachers, parents, school districts, community colleges and universities. “, He said. in your veto message. “Through a collaborative and cooperative process, we have negotiated an initiative that will grant paid administrative leave to teachers who, despite doing everything they can to keep themselves and their communities safe, continue to have their lives and livelihoods disrupted. by COVID-19”.
Under that initiative, which still needs legislative approval, public school and university employees would receive paid administrative leave if they are fully vaccinated and they or their children are required to be excluded from school due to a positive COVID-19 test or have been in close contact. contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19.
It also maintains the wage protections in HB2778 for all hourly school employees, including custodians, bus drivers, food service workers, classroom assistants, and administrative staff, who miss work because the school building they are assigned to is closed due to COVID-19. outbreak. That protection would be retroactive for the entire 2021-2022 academic year.
“Keeping schools open and those within them, and their families, safe has been our number one priority since the start of the pandemic,” IEA President Kathi Griffin said in a press release. “We want people to stay home when they are sick, to be able to care for their children when they need them most, and to be paid when the circumstances that shut down their buildings are completely out of their control.”
“The pandemic has been physically, emotionally and financially challenging for all of us, and certainly not least for educators, school staff and their families,” said IFT President Dan Montgomery. “This legislation provides important relief and ensures that educational staff can afford to take time off if they or their families become sick with COVID.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism