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Getting back to class: Parents respond to vaccine mandate for Illinois teachers

One parent said, "Why are we not trusting vaccines now when we have over the last 100 years?"

GALESBURG, Ill. — Thursday was the first day of classes for the Galesburg School District. Back-to-school brings the usual excitement for kids and parents alike and this year was no different.

"It feels great. We're both really excited." Said Jason Lefebvre. Lefebvre was dropping off his daughter Lydia for her first day of first grade who was very excited to return to the classroom. "She hasn't been able to sleep the last couple days."

This year masks are required for all students. Some families believe it's a small price to pay in order to get their student(s) a full education experience. In August, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced a mandate for all teachers to get the Coronavirus Vaccine. The same mandate came with a deadline of Sunday September 5th, 2021 to get the first dose. 

RELATED: Illinois governor announces statewide mask mandates, COVID-19 vaccine requirements in certain fields

The Galesburg School District says they have not been given any direction by the state board of education when it comes to this new vaccine requirement. The district has instead worked with its attorneys to put together a document to help teachers stay informed on what will be expected of them.

A portion of the document reads:

Vaccinated employees must turn in proof of vaccinated to their school's nurse by the end of the work day on Friday, September 10th. If you have not met this requirement, you must come to work on Monday, September 13th with a negative test result.

You can read the entire document here.

The district will not allow at-home tests. But will allow tests from "any lab, pharmacy, or health care organizations."

Families dropping off their students on Thursday say having their teachers vaccinated is a crucial step to keeping a safe environment for their child(ren).

"Why are we not trusting vaccines now when we have over the last hundred years?" said Jen Mckillip, parent dropping off her child.

Jason Lefebvre, another parent said, "personally, I feel everyone needs to be vaccinated, especially educators."

According to Dr. John Asplund, some teachers have already notified him that they have no intention of rolling up their sleeves. Based on the language in Governor J.B Pritzker's executive order, they don't have to. Dr. Asplund said they are prepared to work with those who do not get the vaccine. A teacher "would just need to provide a negative test result every week."

Because it all comes down to one thing.

"we just want to do what we can so we can make sure we are in school five days a week with students." said Asplund.

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