With the start of classes just one day away, Northwestern University says that more than 97% of enrolled students are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

In a release on the university’s website, Kathleen Hagerty, NU Provost, adds that even more students are expected to become vaccinated as the fall quarter proceeds.

Hagerty also says that as of now, more than 98% of faculty and staff are fully vaccinated as well, with the remaining percentage requesting exemptions.

The provost thanks “Northwestern’s magnificent faculty and staff, for … [their] perseverance, diligence, and adherence to shifting health guidelines” during the 18 months of the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID vaccinations are required for NU students and employees unless they receive an authorized exception. Testing is mandated for those who get permission not to receive the vaccine.

Testing is also required for all students when they arrive, vaccinated or not. Hagerty says in the past seven days, more than 10,000 asymptomatic tests have been conducting for arriving students, with only nine positive cases, a rate of under 0.1%

In addition, Hagerty says, “We’ve started rolling out vaccination requirements to contracted vendors on campus, further protecting the health of our community.”

Hagerty says she expects the NU campus will be over 97% vaccinated during the course of the first term.

Hagerty says NU will continue to monitor ongoing COVID developments with an eye towards changing regulations if necessary. But as of now, it’s back to school, with masks in the classroom, of course.

The new normal may take awhile to feel normal. Hagerty says the return to indoor classes means “different emotions, ranging from joy and relief to anxiety and stress.”

Northwestern has more than 21,000 undergraduate and graduate students, and more than 6,500 full and part-time employees.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.