Local universities rethinking COVID-19 policies after CDC masking guidance change

Local News

NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — The COVID-19 Delta variant is causing universities in Central Illinois to rethink their plans for the upcoming fall semester.

Many universities are now requiring masks after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) new guidelines strongly encourage indoor masking.

As cases of COVID-19 surge nationally and locally in McLean County, colleges like Illinois State University (ISU) are once again changing its guidance for the fall semester, with masks and face coverings making a comeback.

The new masking requirements started Thursday on ISU’s Normal campus and require all students and staff; vaccinated or not, to mask up when inside campus buildings. Spokesperson Eric Jome said it’s a situation they’re monitoring very closely.

“Classrooms, laboratories, common indoor spaces where people are going to be passing each other or congregating in groups,” Jome said.

Jome said ISU is still requiring staff and students to show proof of vaccination or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.

“Our move-in process will also require proof of vaccination or upon move-in, proof of a negative COVID test,” Jome said. “Even allowing for move-in to take place, students will have to have one of those.”

In Peoria, Bradley University spokesperson Renee Charles said the university is still finalizing its back-to-school plans for the fall semester.

“During the summer, we are requiring masks inside classrooms and with all the changes coming down with the CDC and from other folks right now, we’ll look at that and determine what we’ll do for this fall,” Charles said.

Both Bradley University and Illinois State University are planning to offer vaccination clinics this fall in partnership with the Peoria County and McLean County Health Departments. Both have said this doesn’t mean a vaccine mandate is imminent.

“We definitely are pushing for people to get their vaccinations. While we’re not requiring it, we are definitely recommending it,” Charles said.

Charles said the campus community will know more about the university’s plans for the fall semester next week.

An Illinois Wesleyan University spokesperson told WMBD “Our administration is monitoring evolving developments/guidance and planning to communicate an update regarding fall protocols to campus early next week.”

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