COVID-19 vaccine encouraged, not required at North Central College
North Central College is not requiring students and faculty members to be vaccinated before returning to the Naperville campus next month, officials said, but regular COVID-19 testing will be mandatory for those who aren't inoculated.
The 2021-22 academic year is expected to resemble a more typical on-campus experience involving pre-pandemic activities and standard course schedules, President Troy Hammond said in a recent letter to the campus community. But some COVID-19 safety and health protocols will remain intact and be adjusted as necessary throughout the fall semester, he said.
That includes regulations for testing and contact tracing. Students and staff members who do not submit proof of vaccination will have to provide a negative COVID-19 test before living or attending classes on campus, participate in the college's testing program throughout the semester and quarantine if they have been in close contact with someone who tests positive, Hammond said.
The requirements don't apply to those who are fully vaccinated and provide valid documentation. But all individuals, regardless of inoculation status, are expected to report positive or probable COVID-19 cases and isolate, per public health guidelines, the letter says.
A growing number of four-year institutions have established vaccination requirements for on-campus students, including Northern Illinois University in DeKalb and the three University of Illinois campuses. Aurora University and Elmhurst University have extended their policies to include staff and faculty members.
North Central officials sought feedback from community members and consulted with the president's council, cabinet and Institutional Response Team before deciding against mandating full inoculation as a condition for returning to campus, according to Hammond's letter. But he said receiving the vaccine is "strongly encouraged."
Face coverings are no longer required outdoors for anyone, or inside North Central facilities for those who are vaccinated, he said, adding, "It is strongly recommended that non-vaccinated individuals continue to wear masks indoors."
The fall semester begins Aug. 25 for undergraduate and graduate students and includes standard fall, Thanksgiving and winter breaks. Classes will be held primarily in person, Hammond said, and residence halls, dining services and campus gatherings are poised to return to pre-pandemic operations.
Cardinal athletic programs are expected to resume regular fall, winter and spring schedules, though campus officials are awaiting further guidance from the NCAA regarding vaccination and testing requirements, as well as spectator policies.
"I am very much looking forward to the year ahead and the return to our usual vibrant campus life," Hammond said.