BELVIDERE, Ill. (WTVO) – Many of the Illinois residents that are required to get the COVID-19 vaccine are teachers.
In Belvidere, the superintendent announced Tuesday that more than 200 employees had not submitted proof of vaccination, or proof of weekly testing. The announcement came with an option, to comply or potentially lose their job.
Lisa, a former history teacher with Belvidere District #100, was one of the teachers who chose not to comply. An email Monday from Superintendent Daniel Woestman reportedly said that the number of staff who will not comply is now in the single digits, but Lisa said that his announcement felt like a scare tactic, and that some might have caved under pressure.
Woestman on Tuesday said that all staff who did not comply with the vaccine requirement or weekly testing would be put on unpaid administrative leave effective immediately.
Lisa, who is now on unpaid administrative leave because she will not receive the vaccine or weekly COVID tests, said that she is heartbroken.
“I do not care if it is a vaccine, or a surgery, or whatever it is. It is something you do not want yet, it is being forced upon you in order to keep your job or livelihood,” Lisa said.
Lisa said that she does not think she will receive the vaccine, or get tested, in order to go back to work.
“I do not foresee it now,” Lisa said. “Ask me in three weeks, the college bill is coming in. It is going to be rough.”
Lisa, who is a mother of four and taught in the district for nearly seven years, said that after a hard year of remote learning, the announcement felt like a betrayal.
“Since I teach history, I think I have that strong connection to the constitution, and I am just not willing to give that freedom up,” Lisa said. “That was a really rough time, and then to come back this year and have this thrown on us, it is not fair.”
Lisa, who said that standing for what she believes in matters more to her than a job, nonetheless feels bad for her students.
“After the last 18 months we have had, it is really just another uproot in their education,” Lisa said. “I just do not feel like people should have to sacrifice their rights, their medical decisions and their privacy, I really do not. I mean, what would be after that?”
Lisa said that she is planning on attending the school board meeting on Tuesday with others to speak against the requirement.