Coronavirus Weekly Update, September 10: Disregard of public health guidance, registration and withdraw dates, on-campus isolation and quarantine
This week’s update includes information about consequences of not following public health guidance, the Town of Normal ordinance extension, testing, test results, the student absence process, clarification regarding on-campus quarantine and isolation requirements, and housing and meal plan contract cancellation.
Disregard of COVID-19 public health guidance
Student participation earlier this week in large off-campus gatherings instigated by YouTube pranksters has the potential to significantly compromise the University’s efforts to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on the Illinois State University campus and within the community. President Larry Dietz said, “I am extremely disappointed in the actions of some of our students who gathered on Tuesday evening at various off-campus locations.”
The University is working with the Town of Normal, the Normal Police Department, and the Illinois State University Police Department to investigate these events. Students will be charged with violations of the Student Code of Conduct and are subject to Town of Normal ordinance violations for their participation. Violations of the Student Code of Conduct can result in suspension from the University. “Most students are following health and safety guidance, and for that I am proud. Unfortunately, the actions of some will undoubtedly contribute to a significant rise in coronavirus cases in our community,” Dietz said.
“Although you may not experience serious symptoms of this disease, your behavior puts others at risk,” said Dietz. Anyone who participates in a large gathering is more likely to come into contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive. It is everyone’s responsibility to protect those in our community who are most vulnerable to this disease.
Town of Normal ordinance extension
The Town of Normal extended two emergency orders limiting gatherings in and around Illinois State University to 10 people or fewer and requires customers of establishments with liquor licenses to be seated to be served. The orders are extended through December 31. Fines for those found in violation can be up to $750.
If the University is made aware of a student violating a Town of Normal ordinance, the student can also face repercussions for violating the Student Code of Conduct.
The rules state that any member of the Normal Police, Fire, or Inspections Department, any member of the Illinois State University Police Department, or any agent of the McLean County Health Department can enforce these emergency orders.
Registration and Withdraw Dates
Registration for winter and spring semester will open October 19. This is a week later than usual in order to give students more time to meet with their advisors. Registration appointments will be posted in My.IllinoisState.edu on October 1. Keep in mind that the modality of each course has not been finalized. Changes may be made based on the number of positive on-campus cases, testing, and public health guidance.
The date to withdraw (WX) from a course and the University has been extended to October 6 for first half semester courses, November 20 for full semester courses, and December 1 for second half semester courses.
As stated by the CDC, individuals who have tested positive and recovered may continue to have low levels of the virus in their bodies for up to three months after diagnosis. Therefore, if a person who has recovered from COVID-19 is retested within three months of initial infection, they may continue to have a positive test result, even though they are not spreading COVID-19. However, anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should contact Student Health Services or their primary healthcare provider. Research is ongoing regarding the possibility of re-infection.
Anyone testing positive for coronavirus cannot “test out of isolation.” The 10-day isolation period must be completed even for individuals who are asymptomatic. In addition, individuals cannot “test out of quarantine.” The 14-day quarantine period must be completed even if a negative test result is received.
Asymptomatic testing for students continues at two on-campus testing sites, currently located in the Brown Ballroom in the Bone Student Center and the former fire station at 602 N. Adelaide St., from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Students experiencing symptoms can call Student Health Services at 309-438-7676 for an initial screening and to make an appointment to be tested. Students wishing for an antibody test can also call Student Health Services and make an appointment.
Testing is also available for students, faculty, and staff at the Interstate Center testing site. Students testing at this site should share positive test results with Student Health Services by uploading them to the Secure Patient Health Portal.
The University is currently reporting test results, not cases. It is worth noting that some populations are required to test regularly such as students participating in clinical experiences and student-athletes. If an individual has tested multiple times, all results are included in the total results number.
The University has engaged Reditus Labs to conduct all on-campus testing.
Student Absence Process
Students who are tested on campus at Student Health Services or either on-campus testing site will have their test results shared with Student Health Services. Students tested at any other location should share positive test results with Student Health Services by uploading them to the Secure Patient Health Portal.
For those who need to quarantine or self-isolate, Student Health Services provides documentation, including an “Isolation/Quarantine Letter,” to students through the Secure Patient Health Portal. This letter should be shared with the Dean of Students Office at DeanOfStudents@IllinoisState.edu in order to have instructors notified of the duration of the excused absence. Students are copied on the notification to instructors, which is sent by email. Similarly, upon release from quarantine or isolation, students may download a “Release Letter” from their Secure Patient Health Portal and email it to the Dean of Students Office. This prompts a return to class notice to instructors.
Questions about the process of notifying instructors about a student’s need to quarantine or isolate should be directed to the Dean on Duty in the Dean of Students Office at (309) 438-2008.
On-Campus Quarantine and Isolation
University Housing Services is notified by Student Health Services when a student who is living in on-campus housing must isolate or quarantine. Once notified, Housing staff will call the student to assess their needs and to discuss their housing options.
“University Housing Services provides individualized attention to each student and many times their family members as they discuss their housing options for quarantine or isolation,” said Director of University Housing Services Stacey Mwilambwe. “Housing staff listen closely for concerns regarding safety, lack of resources, or other extenuating circumstances.” Questions regarding medical concerns are referred to Student Health Services.
When possible, students are asked to return home to quarantine or isolate in order to accommodate students who cannot. The CDC has provided information about safely quarantining at home with family members. There are a variety of factors considered in determining why a student may not be able to return home such as food or housing insecurity. Students are provided with two hot meals and continental breakfast each day. Upon arrival to their assigned room, students will be provided a treat bag with a variety of refreshments and hearty snacks along with contact information for necessary dietary accommodations. “Our team, comprised of staff at all levels of the University, work long days and nights, including weekends,” said Mwilambwe. “They work tirelessly to provide support and resources.”
It is extremely important for the health and safety of our residential environments and the campus community that quarantine and isolation procedures are followed on- and off-campus. Students in on-campus housing who violate the terms of the isolation or quarantine agreement are at risk of housing contract cancellation and disciplinary sanctions.
Housing and Meal Plan Contracts
Students can cancel their housing and meal plan contracts at any time during the fall term without financial penalty by visiting the Housing and Dining portal.
Questions regarding contract cancellation, can be directed to Housing at 309-438-8611 or Dining at 309-438-8351 from 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Monday–Friday.