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The University of Illinois system announced Wednesday it will require all faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated for the Fall 2021 semester.

The school system posted the update on their website and said COVID-19 vaccines will be required for staff at all three universities in the system; Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The statement said, in part, “…the University of Illinois System is requiring that faculty and staff at all three universities (Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield) receive a complete course of COVID-19 vaccines before the beginning of the Fall 2021 semester, if they are able to do so. For employees covered by a union contract, guidance will be implemented through the applicable collective bargaining processes.”

Last month, The University of Illinois system announced it will require all students be vaccinated for the fall 2021 semester or they will have to follow additional safety guidelines.

At that time, the school said they did not plan to require staff to be vaccinated. But on Wednesday, the statement said:

When we announced the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for our students several weeks ago, you may remember that we said at that time there were no plans to do the same for faculty and staff. Since that time, the System made the decision to require COVID-19 vaccinations for faculty and staff. We fully support this decision and believe that widespread COVID-19 vaccinations at our university provide the best opportunity to maximize the safety of our entire community.

According to the school’s COVID vaccine website, the vaccine is required for those who are able to do so if they plan to be on campus with no additional health and safety obligations.

The school says students who are not able to be vaccinated and/or who have not had their record submitted and verified will be required to get COVID-19 tests and continue to wear a mask.

The guidance on the school’s website says students should submit their Vaccination Record Card through a portal and have it verified before the beginning of the fall semester.

Earlier this week, Illinois Board of Higher Education and the Illinois Community College Board encouraged colleges and universities to require COVID-19 vaccinations of students heading to campuses this fall.

They said the recommendation follows recently released guidance from the Centers for Disease Control. The state agencies contend the guidance will help facilitate the safe transition back to campus, as more students return to in-person learning.

WGN spoke to one incoming freshman who was excited to show off her vaccine shot.

“I wanted to experience being on campus and not having any problems taking the weekly Covid testing and I was like ‘oh, I’ll just save the trouble and get the vaccine,'” said Lazaria Belcher.

Belcher is one of many students who say they are looking for a sense of normalcy when the academic year begins.

“Some of my classes are online or hybrid or in person so I’m happy that we have the experience to go in person,” Belcher said. “I’m OK with it. It is the best to do so we’re all safe.”