ILLINOIS (WEHT) – On April 5, Gov. JB Pritzker signed House Bill 1167, which removes penalties for vaccinated school employees for taking COVID-required leave for themselves or their children.

An Illinois press release says that the legislation protects all hourly school employees in addition to classroom teachers, such as bus drivers, food service providers, and administrative personnel.

“We want to ensure that our school children see the fewest disruptions to their in-person learning due to the public health crisis,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “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.”

“Our state is in the middle of a growing teacher and education employee shortage,” said Kathi Griffin, President of the Illinois Education Association. “We have thousands of open public education positions right now. We need to be doing everything we can to attract young people to the profession and to also show those who’ve chosen education as their life’s work that they are respected. Providing COVID administrative days and paycheck protection for hourly employees is one way we can do that. House Bill 1167 would provide much needed relief to our teachers and support staff who’ve worked diligently to not only provide a quality education for students but also work to keep their students, schools and their communities safe over the past two years.”

This is what the bill does, according to a press release from Illinois:

  • Paid administrative leave for every employee of a public school district, public university, and public community college who meets the following criteria:
    • fully vaccinated or has received the required doses to become fully vaccinated within five weeks of April 5.
    • required, or whose child is required, to be excluded from school because of a positive COVID-19 test result or close contact with a person who had a confirmed case of COVID-19.
    • has been required by the school or school district policy to be excluded from school district property due to COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Restoration of sick leave for every employee of a public school district, public university, and public community college who meets the following criteria: 
    • fully vaccinated or has received the required doses to become fully vaccinated within five weeks of April 5.
    • who has previously used their sick time because they or their child were required to be excluded from school because of a positive COVID-19 test result or close contact with a person who had a confirmed case of COVID-19.
    • has been required by the school or school district policy to be excluded from school district property due to COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Maintains wage protections for all hourly school employees, including but not limited to, custodians, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, classroom assistants, or administrative staff. This applies to the entire 2021-22 school year, including any days that a school has already closed or switched to e-learning which caused the employee to go without pay or take their own earned paid time off.

House Bill 1167 is effective immediately.