“The health and safety of our community, and the communities in which our students, faculty and staff live, have driven DePaul’s decision-making throughout the pandemic,” Esteban said in the message. “We know that the COVID-19 vaccines have been proven effective at greatly reducing the spread of the virus, as well as preventing serious illness and death from COVID-19.”
DePaul, the nation’s largest Catholic university located in the dense city neighborhood of Lincoln Park, made the announcement on the heels of a similar mandate by the University of Illinois System last week. Other private schools such as Northwestern University and the University of Chicago were first to extend a vaccine requirement to employees, on top of making students get shots. Columbia College Chicago is also requiring students to be vaccinated.
Not every school is drawing a hard line. The University of St. Francis in Joliet is trying to encourage students to get shots by offering a $500 Vaccination Grant to those who can show they’re inoculated, but the school is not instituting a requirement.
While more than 500 colleges and universities nationwide plan to require COVID vaccines for some students and employees, it’s a delicate question for institutions concerned about alienating their attendees, particularly in conservative-leaning areas. The trend began with schools first ordering students to get shots and it’s now broadening to include employees.
At DePaul, employees can use paid time off to schedule their vaccine or recover from its side effects. They will be asked to show proof of vaccine and are also subject to “a randomly administered verification program” to ensure compliance.
Employees can request a medical or religious exemption. If approved, exempt employees must undergo twice-weekly COVID and provide DePaul with those results on a random basis. Unvaccinated people must also wear a face covering indoors.