Prioritize higher education faculty and staff for COVID vaccine in Phase 1B

Governor JB Pritzker & IDPH Executive Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike

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With Illinois now in Phase 1B of COVID vaccinations, we applaud the prioritization of PreK-12 employees and teachers by the State of Illinois and the CDC.

However, with a high likelihood of COVID-19 outbreaks at colleges and universities, along with reported community spread associated with these outbreaks, it is necessary for the safety of our students and communities that higher education faculty and staff also be included in Phase 1B. Despite CDC guidance, higher education employees in Illinois are currently left out of this category.

Please add your name to this petition to demand that Governor Pritzker and IDPH Executive Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike move higher education workers who are working in a face-to-face environment into Phase 1B.

To: Governor JB Pritzker & IDPH Executive Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike
From: [Your Name]

Dear Governor Pritzker and Dr. Ezike:

With Illinois now in Phase 1B of COVID vaccinations, we applaud the prioritization of PreK-12 employees and teachers by the State of Illinois and the CDC. We encourage these employees and teachers to be quickly vaccinated to help reopen our schools safely.

Unfortunately, and despite CDC guidance, higher education employees in Illinois are left out of this category. Since March 2020, many higher educational employees have been directed to work on campuses as essential employees. This includes, but is not limited to, building service, food, and clerical workers who are essential to the day-to-day operations of our institutions. Additionally, some faculty continue to teach in person to provide students with necessary hands-on learning which cannot be conducted in a remote environment, such as science labs, studios, and physical education/health sciences workrooms and other hands-on courses. Graduate employees, librarians, security personnel, college advisors, and student service personnel have also continued to work in person to provide essential services to our students and institutions.

PreK-12 teachers and employees are rightly included in the current phase of vaccinations, but by excluding higher education employees our state is endangering students and creating a clear public health hazard. Nearly half of U.S. states are already aligned with the CDC and have declared that higher education employees and faculty in face-to-face working environments are essential educational employees who should be vaccinated in Phase 1B.

With a high likelihood of COVID-19 outbreaks at colleges and universities, along with reported community spread associated with these outbreaks, prioritizing higher education faculty and staff for the vaccine is necessary for our students’ futures and our communities’ well-being.

We demand that the State of Illinois revise its definition of education employee in regard to COVID vaccination priority and include higher education workers in Phase 1B.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this urgent matter.