CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WAND) - The University of Illinois System announced all faculty and staff, along with students, will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the fall 2021 semester. 

Employees covered by a union contract will see guidance implemented at universities through "applicable collective bargaining processes," a letter from U of I System President Tim Killeen said. The requirement follows similar guidance given to students in June and is "consistent with our own scientific modeling of the risks associated with the spread of the virus," Killeen added. 

"We recognize that some individuals are not able to be vaccinated," Killeen said. "That is why it is so important that those of us who can get vaccinated do so. Those who are not vaccinated will need to follow campus-specific or system-office guidelines and any exemption protocols issued by each university, the U of I Hospital and clinics, or the System Offices.

"Throughout the pandemic, we have not compromised the education, student experience and groundbreaking research that make the U of I System truly extraordinary. You, along with our students, have been the authors of that success, helping make the system a model for collective effort in pursuit of the common good.

"Now we look forward to your help in setting a new standard this fall, a semester in which we will restore most in-person instruction and many of the other traditional rhythms of campus life. This will not be possible without widespread vaccinations."

Each university in the system will follow up with more vaccination guidance and other safety measures coming in the fall of 2021. Killeen said policies will be closely monitored and adjusted when appropriate "based on advances in scientific understanding and updated guidance from public health authorities."

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