CU-Covid19EducationPublic Health

Nearly 7,000 Illinois students may have returned from lower-vaccinated areas than Champaign

Marissa Plescia / For CU-CitizenAccess

Almost 7,000 University of Illinois students may have returned to campus from Illinois ZIP codes with lower COVID-19 vaccination rates than Champaign, a new analysis by CU-CitizenAccess found.

There are about 33,000 students from Illinois enrolled at the university.

In its analysis, CU-CitizenAccess matched vaccination rates from the Illinois Department of Public Health as of August 24 to enrollment demographic data on students from the previous year. This year’s enrollment data is not available yet.

The review found:

  • 3,731 students are coming from ZIP codes with lower vaccination rates than Urbana’s 61801, whose population is 44.88% fully vaccinated. 
  • 6,818 students are coming from ZIP codes with lower vaccination rates than Champaign’s 61820, whose population is 48.1% fully vaccinated.
  • 11,188 students are coming from ZIP codes with lower vaccination rates than Champaign’s 61821, whose population is 52.49% fully vaccinated.
  • 12,340 students are coming from ZIP codes with lower vaccination rates than Urbana’s 61802, whose population is 53.92% fully vaccinated. 
  • 20,935 students are coming from ZIP codes with lower vaccination rates than Champaign’s 61822, whose population is 61.58% fully vaccinated.

Vaccination rates of home ZIP codes are not a concern to the university, Associate Chancellor of Public Affairs Robin Kaler wrote in an email. 

“It doesn’t matter from where people come,” Kaler wrote. “Once they get to campus, they need to be vaccinated or request a [vaccine] exemption to allow them to participate in the testing program.”

Deputy Administrator Awais Vaid at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District said in an email prior the semester starting that close to 80% of students were expected to be fully vaccinated. 

The number of COVID cases have been rising since students moved in August 15. Initially, the number of cases hovered around two dozen a day last week, but Monday saw 74 campus cases and 62 on Tuesday.

Another CU-CitizenAccess review of August 13 positivity rates found that almost 8,000 students returned from ZIP codes of higher positivity rates than Champaign County.

Last week, Chancellor Robert Jones said all staff and students must have received one dose of the vaccine by September 5 to continue being on campus this fall, according to a massmail on August 26. It shared the percentages of verified vaccinated student and employee groups are:

  • 88% of undergraduate students 
  • 88% of graduate students
  • 82% of faculty
  • 87% academic professionals
  • 65% of civil service

Jones said these percentages are expected to grow as it gets closer to the first dose deadline to attend in-person classes. 

Undergraduates with an exemption must be tested for the vaccine every other day. Graduate students with an exemption must test twice a week.

Kaler also wrote that they will continue to monitor compliance of the rules through the Safer Illinois app and testing logs. If they are not in compliance, they will be sent a text or email notification. If they continue to not comply after the notification, then they will face disciplinary action, she said.

All vaccinated and unvaccinated students, faculty and staff must also wear masks.

Kaler also wrote that it is not necessary for anyone to ask if a student is vaccinated. The university is also forbidding university officials from asking students why they are not vaccinated.

“Since we have a mandate that everyone must wear face coverings indoors, there is not a legitimate reason for someone to ask if a student is vaccinated,” she wrote.

Marissa Plescia / For CU-CitizenAccess

Leave a Reply