As COVID continues to evolve, so too are Illinois' strategies and requirements for mitigating the virus.
And on Thursday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker's administration announced changes to the state's COVID mitigation strategy, specifically as it relates to testing and schools.
According to a statement from Pritzker's office, beginning Friday, unvaccinated employees in school and childcare settings will no longer be required to test for COVID weekly.
The statement says the change was made "on the advice of medical experts, based on their careful consideration of the current conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic and is in line with Centers for Disease Control guidance."
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The CDC no longer requires routine testing in schools or childcare settings, the statement says, regardless of the vaccination status of the staff member.
"However, they continue to recommend schools and other congregate educational settings consider instituting testing at times of high risk in the community, such as upon return from breaks or after large indoor events," the statement reads. "Illinois schools and childcare centers are urged to consider these suggestions when planning testing and prevention strategies."
The Illinois health department said the change comes "as our approach to the pandemic continues to evolve."
"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," Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Sameer Vohra said in a statement. "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.”
Pritzker's office echoed this sentiment, saying "Vaccination continues to be the most effective tool we have against COVID-19," in the 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 adjustments, being made by Executive Order, mark the latest restrictions to be eased in the state after the governor announced he was eliminating vaccine requirements for college students and faculty members over the summer, among other changes.