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University of Illinois will require vaccines for students and athletes

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Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman said that COVID-19 vaccines were "encouraged" but not required among student-athletes during his annual media roundtable June 16.

Less than a week later, the University of Illinois System, which includes the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Illinois at Springfield, announced that all students — and therefore student-athletes — returning to its three campuses this fall must be vaccinated.

The decision was announced Monday via a mass email.

"This requirement is consistent with our own scientific modeling of the risks associated with the spread of the virus and its variants," the UI System said in a statement. "It is also consistent with the Illinois Department of Public Health's goals."

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There will still be some wiggle room, however, for students who wish to remain unvaccinated.

"Those who are not vaccinated will need to follow campus-specific guidelines and any exemption protocols issued by each university," the UI System stated. "Individuals who plan to work or study remotely are exempted from these requirements."

Whitman said at his annual media roundtable that unvaccinated student-athletes will "have an experience that looks and feels a lot like last year," noting that they'll have to adhere to more rigorous safety protocols than their vaccinated peers.

Follow James Boyd on Twitter: @RomeovilleKid

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