NORMAL — Illinois State University and other public higher education institutions want the Illinois Department of Public Health to require students be vaccinated for COVID-19 if they attend classes in the fall.
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During an Academic Senate meeting last week, ISU President Larry Dietz provided an update on whether students might be required to be vaccinated if they want to attend in-person in the fall.
“I, along with my president and chancellor colleagues across the state, are calling on the IDPH to make COVID-19 vaccinations required for attendance at colleges and universities in the fall. But we’ve not heard back on that yet,” Dietz said.
The matter was discussed during a weekly Zoom meeting of the presidents and chancellors of the public universities in Illinois, an ISU spokesperson said. The executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education is frequently a participant in those meetings. She serves as the liaison to the governor’s office and the Illinois Department of Public Health and communicates with IDPH regarding questions and requests from the universities. A spokesperson for the Illinois Board of Higher Education did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Vaccination requirements for K-12 schools and higher education institutions are established by IDPH, Dietz said.
ISU is planning for a return to a traditional campus experience next year with students taking face-to-face classes, living in on-campus housing, and participating in in-person events and activities. All adults in Illinois will be eligible for the vaccine as of April 12, though some counties are offering earlier access.
Over 2,200 ISU students have tested positive for the coronavirus. The sharpest spike in cases happened right after the start of the fall 2020 semester.
Other schools are not planning to require vaccination.
Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, for example, “will highly encourage all students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated when they become eligible. We do not intend to require the COVID-19 vaccination while it is designated for emergency use,” an IWU spokesperson said.