CHARLESTON, lll. (WCIA) — Eastern Illinois University officials have announced that “vaccines will be the expectation for all eligible students and employees.”
In a letter sent to all students and staff regarding vaccination expectations for the Fall 2021 semester, the school says it recognizes some people with health or other factors may not be candidates for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“This makes it all the more important that everyone in the EIU Family who can get vaccinated does so,” the letter says.
EIU says unvaccinated students and faculty will have to wear masks indoors and outdoors when social distancing is not possible. Additionally, COVID-19 testing will be required for unvaccinated people via the SHIELD testing services.
Employees will have to stay masked at all times indoors except when in their private officers, the letter says.
EIU also says vaccinated students “will enjoy a much more traditional semester.” This means they can hold gatherings for extracurricular activities with no capacity limits or COVID-19 restrictions.
An outline of EIU’s COVID-guidelines can be found at this link.
The full letter can be read below:
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
As EIU plans for an in-person Fall 2021 semester, we remain committed to protecting the health and wellness of our students, employees, guests, and community. To achieve that more traditional environment – complete with engaged and active in-person living, learning, student-athlete opportunities and athletic events, and social experiences for our students – EIU expects every student who plans on taking any in-person classes on campus to have received a full COVID-19 vaccination. This expectation also extends to all EIU faculty and staff members.
We do recognize some students and employees with health or other factors may not be candidates for the COVID-19 vaccine. This makes it all the more important that everyone in the EIU Family who can get vaccinated does so.
For students who are unable to be vaccinated, masks will be required in all indoor areas except in their on-campus Residence Hall/Greek Court room or University Apartment, and social distancing of six feet will continue to be required everywhere indoors and outdoors except inside their on-campus room or apartment. Employees unable to receive the vaccination are also required to wear masks indoors at all times except in their individual, private offices, or outdoors when they are unable to maintain a six-foot distance from others. Unvaccinated individuals also will need to participate in ongoing COVID surveillance testing. Details on EIU COVID testing are available below in this email.
The free and readably available COVID vaccines have been proven safe and effective. Anyone aged 12 or over who receives a COVID-19 vaccine is following the best-practice recommendations of our nation’s leading scientists and health organizations, as well as the guidance issued to Illinois residents by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Beyond the increased safety vaccines provide, vaccinated EIU students will enjoy a much more traditional semester. Vaccinated students won’t be required to wear masks in most indoor and all outdoor locations or observe social distancing protocols. Vaccinated students also will enjoy the benefit of meeting in person with their vaccinated peers in gatherings of any size for all campus extracurricular activities – RSO meetings, working out in the Rec Center, dining with friends, social events, pick-up sport games – the list goes on. All these activities can be enjoyed without any COVID-19 related restrictions. Moreover, vaccinated students and employees will not need to be quarantined if they are contact-traced to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 (unless they begin exhibiting symptoms).
We encourage you to research the COVID vaccines on your own using valid, authenticated sources. Information about the free vaccines – including their efficacy, safety, and where to receive them – is available via the CDC and at www.vaccines.gov. In addition to providing useful information, those official sites also address broad public misinformation about the vaccine, complete with up-to-date facts and figures. Data and research continue to demonstrate that COVID-19 vaccines play a critical role in ending the COVID-19 pandemic – including reducing the severity of symptoms for anyone who contracts COVID-19 or any of its evolving variants.
Finally, beginning this fall, EIU will be verifying the vaccination status of all its students and employees. More details on the method(s) Eastern will be using to authenticate vaccination statuses will be provided soon. All students who are taking at least one in-person class on campus and all employees (except those who have received an accommodation to work remotely due to documented health condition) who are unable to receive the vaccination will need to participate in EIU’s COVID-19 Surveillance Testing Program. Like last spring, EIU will use the noninvasive SHIELD saliva testing method.
One last reminder: Because we can’t know everyone’s personal situation or circumstance, we continue to strongly encourage members of our campus community to treat each other with empathy and understanding. Individual students and employees may choose to mask and/or social distance even if vaccinated, and such safe practices should be respected and honored.
I hope everyone is having a terrific summer and looking forward to an awesome Fall 2021 semester.
Thank you for your ongoing commitment to Protecting our Panthers.
David GlassmanPresident, Eastern Illinois University