Dear students, faculty and staff:
As we begin the spring semester, it is important to remain vigilant to protect ourselves against COVID-19. Core to this is the science-based decision-making process we have followed from the very beginning, using guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the Illinois Department of Public Health and relevant campus and community scientific analyses.
Vaccines have been and remain a highly effective tool for preventing serious illness. Although the primary vaccination series is significantly less effective for the new COVID-19 subvariants now prevalent nationwide, the available bivalent booster continues to offer protection against severe disease. As the virus continues to evolve, so too will COVID-19 vaccines.
Accordingly (with the exception of the UIHealth system and clinics, which have separate regulations), the University of Illinois System will no longer require the COVID-19 primary vaccine series for students and employees. We do, however, strongly recommend that you stay up to date with the most recent vaccine or booster available as a barrier to serious illness.
Testing also continues to be a valuable tool for COVID-19 containment and, while the University of Illinois System will no longer require regular testing of those who are unvaccinated, if you do have symptoms or have been exposed to the virus, we encourage you to take advantage of the free testing that will continue to be available.
If you do feel ill or have symptoms of COVID-19, we also strongly urge you to stay home from school and work to protect your classmates and colleagues.
Masks remain effective in limiting COVID-19 transmission, and we encourage everyone to use them, particularly in indoor spaces. Due to the different circumstances within our three universities, masking requirements may vary and could change as deemed necessary. Please refer to each university’s updated guidance on masking.
In addition, all three universities will be using an additional protective tool this spring pioneered by our Discovery Partners Institute and University of Illinois Chicago researchers. The new Wastewater Surveillance System will expand wastewater testing to provide early warnings about the prevalence of COVID-19 on our campuses.
Thank you all for your continued diligence. Through your efforts, the U of I System has set a high standard for safety during the pandemic and served as a model for the nation. I am confident that with your help we will continue our vigilance against the COVID-19 virus.
With my warm best wishes for the new year ahead,
President Timothy L. Killeen