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Belivdere residents protest school vaccine mandate, school district says less than five employees are not in compliance

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Belvidere parents protest vaccine mandate for teachers

BELVIDERE (WREX) — Dozens of Belvidere residents and parents crowded the parking lot outside the Belvidere School District Administration Building to protest Governor JB Pritzker's vaccine mandate for school workers and the school district abiding by the mandate

Protest organizer Jim McIlroy believe the state is forcing people into an unfair situation by trading the vaccine for their job.

"The biggest bribe and blackmail right now is somebody's job if you don't get the shot," McIlroy said. "I want to stand for people to be able to have that freedom of choice, and that's what we're all standing for."

However, the school district says less than five people are not in compliance with the governor's order.

District Superintendent Daniel Woestman says the district hasn't seen a lot of teachers leave due to resignations, and that the majority of district employees are vaccinated.

The district's website says administrators are 89% vaccinated, teachers are 87% vaccinated, paraprofessionals, office professionals, and custodial are 78%, 73% and 68% respectively.

In regards to the people not in compliance, Woestman says the board could take a vote to terminate those employees or keep them on leave at the next board meeting if nothing changes with their compliance status.

Woestman did say he respects and believes in everyone's choice to get vaccinated or not, but says he's forced to follow the state's mandates.

"I do believe that everyone has a right to choose whether they want to be vaccinated or whether they want to be tested," Woestman said. "The state law just mandates to me that I can not allow employees onto school grounds if they’re not in compliance."

The district did make changes for kids who are under quarantine to get more direct education. The board will look to get quarantined students at least two hours of classroom time instead of just getting missed assignments from teachers and being left to work on their own.

"So students can interact with teachers for multiple hours to get content, get support and make sure they have a full day's schedule instead of just receiving the classwork from their teacher that they missed the assignments for because they were gone," Woestman said.

As of October 5, the district's website says 171 students are quarantined across the district.

So students can interact with teachers for multiple hours to get content, get support and make sure they have a full day's schedule instead of just receiving the classwork from their teacher that they¤WA2 6952 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missed the assignments fior because they were gone. 

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Investigative Reporter

William Ingalls is the Investigative Reporter at WREX. He joined the team in 2019 as a photographer after graduating with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and English from Augustana College. William was born and raised in Rockford.

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