NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — The big question now facing local college administrators in the pandemic is deciding whether to mandate the vaccine.
Public universities like Illinois State University (ISU) are appealing to state leaders for more direction and guidance on the matter.
This comes after this past week, Rutgers University, a public school in New Jersey, announced all students will be required to have a COVID-19 vaccination to be on campus.
ISU President Larry Dietz and other public university leaders in the state met last week and appealed to the state for a mandate requiring the COVID-19 vaccination for students and staff on-campus starting the fall 2021 semester.
Spokesperson for ISU Eric Jome said right now the university is “recommending” the shot for all students, faculty, and staff at the school and even has on-campus vaccination clinics.
“We really feel that’s going to help us in the long run as we plan on moving to a more traditional campus experience in the fall,” Dietz said.
Jome said leadership from the university and other public universities are in ongoing talks with the Illinois Department of Public Health about requiring vaccinations on campus. He doesn’t believe individual institutions will make that decision on their own.
“Any kind of a vaccine mandate like that would either have to come from the Governor’s office or from the Illinois Department of Public Health. So that’s something university presidents and chancellors are discussing on an ongoing basis,” Jome said.
However, just down the street in Bloomington, Illinois Wesleyan University Sean of Students Karla Carney-Hall said vaccines are recommended, but IWU will not require them for this fall as of right now.
“Because it’s approved for emergency use, we won’t be requiring the vaccine and that will bring some of its own challenges,” Carney-Hall said.
Carney-Hall said due to the three approved vaccines only being in the ‘use for emergency’ stage by the Food and Drug Administration, there’s too many potential liability issues. She said the school will re-evaluate as more is known about the vaccines.
“College campuses already require vaccinations for mumps, measles, and rubella. On-campus here, we require the meningitis vaccine so we’re not opposed to requiring vaccines. It’s a matter of what level they’ve been approved at by the FDA,” Carney-Hall said.
Both schools said to expect more traditional college experiences with more on-campus learning and reduced online learning next fall.
Jome said at ISU, on-campus testing sites will remain in place and masks will still be required by all students and staff in campus buildings.