If you are new to Illinois State, welcome! If you are returning, welcome back!  I’m writing to you today as President of Illinois State, but also as a parent and grandparent. We are glad to have you here. I want to reiterate the importance of following COVID-19 safety measures put in place by the University, the Illinois Board of Higher Education, and the Governor.

For the past several months, teams of Illinois State faculty and staff members have been creating and implementing plans to keep the University community as safe and healthy as possible during the world’s worst health crisis in our lifetimes. These plans include detailed instructions regarding testing, contact tracing, face-coverings, physical distancing, hygiene, facility cleaning, and other guidelines designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Unfortunately, the University’s ability to impose these protocols ends at our campus borders. While responding to a large, off-campus gathering this past weekend, officials observed hundreds of people not following the most basic tenets of coronavirus safety—ignoring protocols for physical distancing and the wearing of face-coverings. Although I cannot confirm all involved were Illinois State students, that is the perception. I cannot over emphasize how important it is that we follow all public health guidance. It is provided for the sole purpose of protecting each of us from contracting COVID-19.

Governor Pritzker is strongly considering moving Illinois back to a more restrictive coronavirus phase due to health and safety metrics that are changing for the worse.  There is no question that what happens at colleges and universities across the state will play a role in those metrics.

We must continue to take coronavirus seriously and follow all health guidance in order to prevent additional significant impacts to our health and the community.  As a Redbird family, we have an obligation to protect those who are most vulnerable to this disease by making choices in line with the guidance of public health officials. We are in this together and share in the responsibility of keeping ourselves and others healthy.

If you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms, contact Student Health Services at (309) 438-7676. Beginning this week, students who are not experiencing symptoms will be able to be tested on-campus. More information about locations and the testing process will be available shortly.

Ultimately, what happens off campus will profoundly impact on-campus decisions.  Please remember to follow all health and safety guidelines, especially those regarding physical distancing, face-coverings, hygiene, and cleaning. Please avoid large crowds and encourage others to do the same. Lastly, consult the Coronavirus website regularly for the most up-to-date information and guidance.

Thank you, and stay safe and healthy.