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An Illinois teacher who refused to show proof of her vaccination status and was about to be placed on unpaid leave has revealed to the school district she got vaccinated over the summer.
Kadence Koen, 43, who teaches business and math at Southeast High School in Springfield, refused to inform her superiors on whether she was vaccinated or not – in defiance of state mandates introduced by Governor JB Pritzker.
Educators are otherwise expected to show proof or be tested for COVID weekly.
Kadence Koen, 43, taught math and business at a school in Springfield, Illinois, but had refused to show her vaccination card forcing her to take unpaid leave from the classroom
On Monday, Koen finally uploaded a copy of her vaccination card to Gina McLaughlin-Schurman, Springfield School District 186’s assistant superintendent of human resources.
The card revealed that Koen received her first dose of the vaccine on June 29, with a second dose about three weeks later on July 19, long before the mandate had been introduced.
Koen had until Wednesday to work out a ‘remediation plan’ and is currently on unpaid leave until November 17.
The teacher said she was moved to resolve the issue because she missed her students.
‘Anti-mandate does not mean anti-vaccination,’ she wrote. ‘It means pro-freedom, pro-medical autonomy, pro-liberty. Shouldn’t all Americans agree with freedom of choice?’
‘I didn’t want to have to produce a vaccination card because I don’t think that’s legal or appropriate, but if you ask me to choose between my personal beliefs and my students, my students will win,’ Koen said to the State Journal-Reigster.
‘My mother said that I was a round peg in a round hole and I do well with kids there and that’s where I belong. I know I make a difference there. I can’t imagine my life not teaching.’
It has now been revealed Koen was already vaccinated having received her first dose in June and second three weeks later in July – months before the mandate
Koen said that she had received messages of support from students and teachers alike.
‘Most agreed with me, some of them disagreed with me, but all were in support of me standing up for what I believe in and me teaching students to stand up for what they believe in.’
She explained her decision of refusing to prove her vaccination status in order to comply with state requirements as ‘always about liberties and freedoms and medical autonomy.’
Koen said she was pleased that her position ‘created conversation in the community. I am glad it’s getting people to think. I am glad it’s getting people to look into what’s going on.
‘Whether people agree or disagree with my methods or agree or disagree with my stance, I’m glad people are talking. I’m glad people are no longer just accepting things as this is the way it has to be.’