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Nauvoo-Colusa schools not requiring weekly testing for unvaccinated staff

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NAUVOO, Ill. (WGEM) -- The Nauvoo-Colusa School board said Tuesday some staff members do not have to get vaccinated, or submit to weekly COVID-19 testing if they don't want to, which goes against Governor Pritzker's mandate.

Under Governor Pritzker's mandate, unvaccinated Illinois teachers and staff must get tested for COVID-19 each week.

Laura Aitchison is the teacher who pushed for the exemption after she said she heard from an overwhelming number of teachers who were willing to quit their jobs if they were forced to get vaccinated or be submitted to weekly testing.

Aitchison, and eight other staff members, are claiming an exemption under the Health Care Right of Conscience Act. The Nauvoo-Colusa School Board voted Monday night to allow those exemptions.

"Not every teacher is getting tested, it is only the unvaccinated and that's where I felt that there was a line drawn of discrimination. So for some reason, if I have a conscious belief that I should not be vaccinated, or a religious belief, and only I am targeted to get tested weekly that becomes a discrimination issue," Aitchison said.

Nauvoo-Colusa Superintendent Kent Young said he's in a difficult position right now as he has to follow the decision made by the school board while pushing back against the state's executive orders.

"It's a challenge because, you know, obviously I have to follow what the school board wants and then the state's telling be to do something differently and that is a challenge to be in right now," Young said.

Before Monday night's board decision, Nauvoo-Colusa was already on probation for not following the state's mask mandate. The district has until Oct. 31 to make changes or face losing recognition status and state funding.

Although Young said the district needs state funding to survive, he will follow the school board's decision.

"The school board is who I work for and whatever decisions they make, then I follow those," Young said.

You can find the list of Illinois schools who are still on probation here.

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Rebecca Duffy

Multimedia Journalist

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