Local colleges not mandating COVID-19 vaccine, but it is highly encouraged

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) -The Illinois Board of Higher Education and the Illinois Community College Board released guidance encouraging public and private colleges to require the COVID-19 vaccine on campus.

Local colleges leaders say while they haven’t mandated the vaccine, but it’s highly recommended.

Earlier this summer, Illinois State University released its plans for the fall of 2021 which including how they will address the COVID-19 vaccine.

“One of the major components of that was very strong expectation that students would provide evidence of vaccination before the beginning of the semester,” said Eric Jome, director of media relations at Illinois State University.

For now, at ISU, the vaccine is encouraged rather than mandated but Jome says there will be requirements for unvaccinated students.

“Students who do not provide that proof of vaccination will be required to undergo regular COVID-19 testing,” Jome said.

In efforts to promote the vaccine, ISU is holding drawings with a chance to win significant prizes.

“1,000 dollar scholarships, 100 students will receive those, and then some flex dollars added to some student’s accounts,” Jome said.

Illinois Wesleyan University is also encouraging students and staff to roll up their sleeves instead of requiring it. The administration at Wesleyan said a large majority have answered that call.

“Right now over 80% of our students are vaccinated and over 90% of our faculty and staff are,” said Karla Carney-Hall, Illinois Wesleyan University vice president of student affairs and dean of students.

IWU will also have additional testing for unvaccinated students.

Carney-hall said student’s willingness to getting vaccinated will allow a more normal college experience to return.

“A community that is able to gather and connect and experience college the way it was meant to be experienced,” Carney-Hall said.

“Illinois Central College strongly encourages all eligible to become fully vaccinated and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Our top priority is the health and safety of our students, employees, and community. Free and safe COVID-19 vaccinations are widely available. ICC is hosting free, open to the public, walk-in vaccine clinics at both the Peoria and East Peoria Campuses on Monday, August 2.”

Kayla Thompson, lead coordinator of communications and media relations at Illinois Central College.

“First and foremost, we strongly encourage everyone who is eligible in the Heartland community to become fully vaccinated. Safe and free COVID-19 vaccinations are widely available in District 540 for all persons over the age of 12. Additionally, Heartland will be hosting free clinics for the one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccination on site at the Normal campus in August.

Steve Fast, director of public information at Heartland Community College.

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