Facing termination, vaccinated teacher said she’s anti-mandate, not anti-vaccine

Facing termination, vaccinated teacher said she’s anti-mandate, not anti-vaccine

SPRINGFIELD, IL — A Springfield school teacher who made headlines for refusing to show proof she was vaccinated said she’s anti-mandate, not anti-vaccine.

Kadence Koen teaches math and business at a high school in Springfield. Back in September after Gov. J.B. Pritzker mandates all educators get vaccinated, she made headlines for vocally opposing mandates that educators show their vaccine status or test weekly.

Last month, the Springfield school board voted to put Koen on unpaid leave for not complying.

While some may have labeled Koen anti-vaccine, she said that’s never been her position. Over the weekend, Koen showed she’d been vaccinated since before the governor’s mandate.

“My stand all the way along has been anti-mandate,” Koen told WMAY. “I am against the idea of one man being able to tell an entire population what they have to do as far as their medical decisions.”

“I don’t understand why anybody is not against mandates,” Koen said. “Because whether it’s the vaccine mandate, or the closing of business mandate, or the closing of school mandate, eventually one of these mandates will affect everybody and when you start giving up rights you never get them back.”

After weeks of not working in the classroom and facing termination, she said she reached the end of the wire with the school district.

“I will continue to fight the mandates and doing what I did gives me a voice about the mandates but I’m not willing to not be a teacher anymore,” Koen said.

Koen said Wednesday she’s been told she can return to the classroom on Nov. 19.

Another Springfield teacher, Kingsley Keys, is also on leave for refusing to comply with the mandates. He told the State Journal-Register he will continue to resist.

“My overarching reason to not test is the popular adage: if you leave your children a world where you never stood up, they’ll inherit a world where they can’t,” Keys told the SJ-R. “If the type and frequency of test can be forced as a condition of employment while unilaterally changing contractual language with zero ratification or voting, then I guarantee they will not stop there. In this culture of increased overreach and control, aimed at controlling every heartbeat, I stand up for all Illinoisans willing to listen.”

Koen said the next issue she’s watching is whether the COVID-19 vaccine will be mandated for school children.

“People are willing to take a lot more for themselves than for their kids and I think this divide will get much larger if that happens,” Koen said.

The Springfield school board has sent a resolution to the state education board supporting COVID-19 vaccine mandates for kids, but Pritzker said a vaccine mandate for kids is something that must go through the legislature.

Koen has now shared her story with several outlets, including Fox News. Her story was featured by the Daily Mail.

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