Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday afternoon that an executive order would require all teachers, staff and students in kindergarten through 12th grade would be required to wear masks indoors regardless of whether they have had the vaccine.
“We know that consistent and correct mask use is the simplest, most effective way to keep students safely in school, where they can learn and grow to their fullest potential,” Pritzker said.
The Illinois State Board of Education had previously stated that it would allow local boards to determine face covering mandates. Several Nashville and Washington County schools had released back to school plans indicating that masks would be recommended for those who haven’t received a COVID vaccine but were not required.
Statewide COVID-19 cases have been increasing over the past few weeks. The Illinois Department of Public Health data indicated that 35 people in Washington County had tested positive for COVID over the past week, and there were 62 new total new cases since July, the most since vaccines had become more widely accessible to the public. The county and Region Four had been listed as a highly transmittable area.
For the week of July 18, Washington County had a 5.7 percent test positivity rate with 174 tests conducted.
Also in the announcement was the universal mask mandate in all long-term care facilities across the state, including privately owned and operated.
The Standard will update this post as more local decisions are announced.