ET has learned that, while Derek is under quarantine and recovering, he will still very much be a part of the show, appearing virtually as well as in a pre-taped segment.
Julianne is a two-time DWTS champion — winning mirrorball trophies back-to-back in seasons four and five – and then returned as a judge for several seasons before leaving the show in 2017.
ET spoke with a number of the contestants and their pro partners over the weekend, as they were rehearsing for Monday’s finale, and there was a lot of excitement for Julianne’s return.
Pro Jenna Johnson — who has been leading the season with celeb partner JoJo Siwa — told ET that she is “so excited” by the news.
“Julianne is the reason I started doing ballroom!” Johnson shared. “So to have her judge this finale just means the world.”
Cheryl Burke — the pro partner of celeb Peloton instructor Cody Rigsby — was equally thrilled, telling ET, “I’ve known Julianne since she was 10 years old so we go way back.”
“It’s always nice to have old contestants or old pros come back on our show and judge, so she is amazing and she knows what to look for,” Burke shared. “She’s a great replacement for Derek, so I’m really excited.”
On Tuesday, just a day after he served as a judge on the ABC show’s semifinals, Derek revealed that he had tested positive for a breakthrough case of the coronavirus.
“Even though I’ve been fully vaccinated, I’ve just been diagnosed with a breakthrough case of COVID,” he revealed in a video posted to his Instagram. “I just found out and I feel OK. I feel strong. I’m currently taking advice from medical professionals to get better as fast as I can. I’m currently in quarantine.”
Hough assured fans, “I’ll make sure to keep you guys all updated with what’s going on, but I just want to send my love out there to all. Stay safe.”
Earlier in the season, Burke revealed that she and Rigsby had tested positive for COVID-19. They were forced to perform one of their dances virtually before being cleared to return to the ballroom the following week.
The Dancing With the Stars finale airs Monday, Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.