As we end the second week of the semester, I want to assure you that Illinois State University is closely monitoring the number of positive cases reported through on-campus and community testing sites. I state the obvious when I say the number of positive COVID-19 test results received through on-campus testing is concerning. At this time (Friday, August 28, 2020), there are a total of 512 positive test results received since August 17, which include students tested at our on-campus surveillance testing sites as well as symptomatic students at Student Health Services. There are 44 students currently isolating in on-campus housing.
The University continues to work collaboratively with the Town of Normal and the McLean County Health Department to control the spread of the virus on our campus and in our community. Earlier today, Town of Normal Mayor Chris Koos issued two executive orders. One limits gatherings of more than 10 people in areas around the Illinois State University campus and the other addresses COVID-19 issues in restaurants and bars. These actions go into effect today and include fines up to $750 for non-compliance. I greatly appreciate the initiative of the Town of Normal and Illinois State will continue to be a partner in the fight against COVID-19.
The University made many decisions throughout the summer months to de-densify the number of students, faculty, and staff who are on campus. Many faculty and staff continue to work remotely. In addition, nearly 80 percent of classes are being taught virtually. Students who are ordinarily required to live on campus were provided with an exemption to our on-campus housing policy and allowed to cancel their university housing contract without financial penalty through August 18. This resulted in a nearly 40 percent reduction in on-campus residents. We continue to work closely with students who prefer to live at home rather than in on-campus housing. In addition, many of our students are currently living in the community in off-campus housing and signed leases for this fall in September or October of 2019, prior to COVID-19. The University is not a party to leases that students sign and regrettably has no control over off-campus housing agreements.
Illinois State will continue to monitor the number of cases and will communicate with the campus community on a weekly basis regarding the University’s approach to COVID-19. As always, please refer to the University’s COVID-19 webpage where you can find updated information about on-campus testing, quarantine and isolation procedures, training resources, health and safety guidelines, and other topics.
I urge students, faculty, and staff to follow all public health guidelines while on campus and in the community. The health and safety of the campus community is our collective responsibility. It is more important than ever that we work together to keep each other safe and provide care for our Redbird family as we work to mitigate the numerous impacts of COVID-19.