Pritzker stated in his veto message that vaccines are an essential tool in preventing deadly COVID-19 effects. They deserve to be allowed to respond to the continuing devastating effects of the COVID-19 epidemic on their families and themselves.

House Bill 2778 was passed by the General Assembly in the fall session of veto. It received broad bipartisan support, 53-1 in Senate and 92-22 in House.

It would have offered paid leave to any employee, support staff, and contractor who was unable to work due to COVID-19.

Pritzker stated that he had been working with teachers unions and other groups since the bill was passed to negotiate a new package with a stronger requirement for vaccines.

He stated in his veto message that “numerous organizations are affected by this legislation” “Through a collaborative and cooperative process, we have reached an agreement that will provide paid administrative time for teachers who, despite trying their best to protect their families and communities, are still being affected by COVID-19.

This initiative still requires legislative approval. Public school and university employees will be eligible for paid administrative leave if they have been fully vaccinated, and their child has had a positive COVID-19 or they have been in close contact to someone with a confirmed COVID-19 case.

It also retains the wage protections provided by HB2778 to all hourly school employees, including bus drivers, custodians, classroom assistants, and food service workers. This protection would apply retroactively to the entire 2021-2022 academic school year.

Kathi Griffin, President of the IEA stated in a press release that “Keeping schools open and the people inside them — as well as their families — safe was our number one priority since the beginning of the pandemic.” We want people to be able stay home when they are sick and be able care for their children when they need them most. When circumstances force them to close their buildings, we want them to be paid.