Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration on Thursday announced a change to the state’s COVID mitigation strategies.
Among the new guidelines was an update to testing requirements for school and childcare employees. Unvaccinated employees in those settings will no longer be required to twice twice weekly.
The change goes into effect Friday, according to the governor’s office.
“Vaccination continues to be the most effective tool we have against COVID-19, and I’m proud that millions of Illinoisans have taken advantage of these life-saving vaccines – they have given us the ability to adjust these requirements,” Pritzker said in a statement. “I continue to urge everyone in the state to stay up to date on vaccines and boosters, including getting the recently released bivalent booster shot. Although the current state of the pandemic is very different than it was two years ago, we still need to protect the most vulnerable members of our community as we continue to be responsive to the changing challenges and evolutions of this virus.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also no longer requires testing in schools or childcare settings, regardless of vaccination status, though it recommends areas reimplement them during “time of high risk” in communities, including after breaks or big indoor events.
Illinois’ health department said the change comes “as our approach to the pandemic continues to evolve.”
“It remains our continued goal to address the health risks of COVID-19, but current conditions of the pandemic are different from those of the last two years,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Sameer Vohra said in a statement. There are now many tools available for protecting our students, teachers and the general public, including the latest updated bivalent vaccines and effective treatment options for children and adults. It continues to be important to remain home if you have COVID-19 symptoms, per CDC recommendations. Broad access to COVID-19 testing will remain a critical part of our strategy. To ensure ready access to testing, IDPH has offered one million rapid COVID-19 tests to schools for use by students and staff at home.”
It marks the latest restrictions to be eased in the state after the governor’s announced he was eliminating vaccine requirements for college students and faculty members over the summer, among other changes.