Local News

Portal opens for NIU students to provide proof of vaccination, request $100 incentive

Portal opening comes after university announced requirement for all on-campus students to be vaccinated before returning in fall

DeKALB — Northern Illinois University students may now upload their proof of the COVID-19 vaccination and request the $100 incentive or an exemption online, university officials say.

According to an email sent to NIU students Wednesday obtained by the Daily Chronicle, students living in residence halls or Northern View are required to upload their COVID-19 vaccination cards or have an exemption request approved by their move-in dates.

“Students who do not show proof of vaccination or an approved exemption by their move in date will not be permitted access to their living space or in-person classes,” university officials wrote.

Students who are living in residence halls or Northern View are required to receive either dose of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine before they move into their rooms for the upcoming school year. Students not living in university housing but are taking in-person classes should receive the full dose of their vaccines by Aug. 20, according to university staff.

NIU student affairs officials also wrote in the email it will take “up to three business days to review all exemption requests.”

Students who show proof of vaccination to university officials on or before their deadlines will get $100 each, according to the university. They may choose to receive the $100 in a refund or have it applied to their fall 2021 account balance.

“Please do not delay in taking action,” NIU student affairs officials wrote in a Wednesday email to students. “Your timely response will help ensure a successful start to the new semester.”

The update comes after NIU officials announced in June students living on campus and taking in-person classes will be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine with a $100 credit as an incentive.

NIU President Lisa Freeman previously said in a June 23 email to students that university staff is focusing on “returning to a more traditional semester” for fall 2021. She said the university will require and provide the incentive for all students who live in residence halls, are in face-to-face classes or participate in in-person research and artistry.

Freeman said students in only online classes are exempt from this requirement and incentive.

“We realize that the limitations COVID-19 imposed on in-person and residential activities in 2020-21 had negative consequences for our community’s academic, social and mental health,” Freeman said in the email to students. “We know you want to resume activities that enhance your personal, academic and professional growth, and we share this aspiration. Throughout the pandemic, the university has been closely monitoring evolving scientific evidence and public health guidance, and we recognize now that the most effective way for our campus community to accomplish these goals is through COVID-19 vaccination.”

In a separate June 23 email to NIU employees obtained by the Daily Chronicle, university officials wrote the university will not require employees to receive COVID-19 vaccines. However, all employees will be added to the weekly surveillance testing pool beginning in mid-August and can be excused from testing if they are fully vaccinated or if their supervisors can verify employees are working entirely remotely.

“There are members of our community who are reluctant to get vaccinated because of concerns about side effects, mistrust of our health systems or a lack of understanding the science involved in creating the vaccine,” Freeman said in the June email to NIU employees. “I did not hesitate to get vaccinated because I am convinced that facts show the vaccine is safe, effective and worthwhile.”

Students will be able to request exemption from the vaccine requirement for documented health or religious reasons and more information on how to request exemptions will be provided in the coming weeks, according to NIU officials. The university also will allow students to request personal exemptions while the three COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States are under an FDA Emergency Use Authorization exemption, the June email to students states.

“Students who are not vaccinated will be required to undergo weekly COVID-19 surveillance testing,” Freeman said.

Matt Streb, chief of staff to NIU President Lisa Freeman, said in April the vaccinations were not required at that time for students to attend NIU in the Fall 2021 semester, though multiple colleges and universities across the country have made it a requirement for their students. Previously, he said there weren’t decisions made yet one way or the other for the next academic year.