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Campus Reopening Plans for This Fall a Work in Progress

Rich Egger

John Smith, Interim Vice President for Student Services at Western Illinois University, said the state's universities are working together to make sure they're all on the same page about how to reopen this fall.

He said for now the institutions can encourage their employees and students to get vaccinated against COVID-19 but they cannot require it.

"Right now, all these vaccinations are operating under an emergency use authorization, which means they're clinical trials, and in the world of medicine those are experiments. According to federal law, you can't force people to participate in experiments," Smith told the WIU Board of Trustees (BoT).

"Until they (vaccine makers) get FDA approval, we will not be able to require it."

Smith added, "There is an Illinois immunization act that this will also have to pass through, through the state legislature. Hopefully that can get done once these vaccine manufacturers get FDA approval and then it can be a mandated vaccine just like MMR, TB, the vaccines that are already mandated."

Smith said it is possible mandatory testing could be implemented for those who are not vaccinated.

Joe Roselieb, WIU Executive Director of Auxiliary Services and Risk Management, said the university sent a COVID-19 vaccination survey to employees and students at the end of the spring semester.

Roselieb told the BoT 743 employees and around 960 students responded:

  • 71.2% said they were fully vaccinated
  • Nearly 7% said they had received one dose of a vaccine
  • Nearly 6% said they intended to get vaccinated over the summer

Roselieb said WIU hopes to hold vaccine clinics on campus at the beginning of the school year.
The administration also released an updated version of the Protect the ‘Necks plan on June 11. You can read it here.

Smith anticipated issuing further guidelines will be issued in the coming weeks.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.