BLOOMINGTON-NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — Local colleges are ending their first “normal” semester since the pandemic began.
In Bloomington-Normal, both universities are on winter break and looking towards the 2022 spring semester.
Illinois State and Illinois Wesleyan returned most of the student population to campus this past semester. Thanks to vaccines and testing, both schools reported that for the most part, it was a great semester.
“No matter how well you plan, you wonder how things are going to go,” said Eric Jome, director of media relations at ISU.
Illinois State is wrapping up its first normal college semester since 2019.
“That was the intention and that’s what we overwhelmingly heard from students, is we want to return to campus,” Jome said.
Jome said strong vaccination rates, 94% of staff and 79% of all students being vaccinated, lead to fewer insolations and cases among students.
“We did have some students in isolation, [but] we had spaces available on campus for that, but certainly not to the same level we saw before,” Jome said.
At Illinois Wesleyan, things have steadied after a breakout in August.
“For the last 14 weeks, I think we’ve had 13 cases. So very, very low,” said president, Georgia Nugent.
Nugent said 97% of the student body is vaccinated.
“We have 40 who have been approved for medical or religious exemptions and they all have to test weekly,” Nugent said.
She said although things look promising, it’s too soon to let up, especially as new variants like Omicron emerge and spread.
“I think what’s going to be a new question for everyone is will there be a mandate for boosters,” Nugent said.
Both campuses are requiring a negative test result to return to campus next semester if a vaccination record is not on file.