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Weekly Update, September 17: Mental health resources, spring planning, registration and withdrawal dates, testing, and student conduct

This week’s update includes information about mental health resources, spring planning, registration and withdrawal dates, testing, and student conduct. Visit the University’s Coronavirus website for the most up-to-date information and guidance. Questions can be emailed to coronavirus@ilstu.edu.

Mental health resources

In August, the CDC released a study confirming that young adults, racial and ethnic minorities, essential workers, and unpaid caregivers for adults reported having experienced disproportionately worse mental health outcomes in association with COVID-19.

Director of Student Counseling Services Sandy Colbs reminded students that mental health resources are available to them through Student Counseling Services. “Thinking about our students’ well-being means thinking about mental as well as physical health,” said Colbs. “I urge students experiencing anxiety or other mental health challenges to take part in programs, counseling, and initiatives. We are here for you.”

Some resources include:

  • Student Counseling Services (SCS) provides a range of services for students. To set up an initial consultation or for immediate help, call Student Counseling Services at (309) 438-3655. If you have an emergency after normal business hours or on the weekend, call SCS at (309) 438-3655 and at the prompt, press “2” to speak to a counselor immediately, or dial (855) 256-2188.  The counselor will provide information, support, referrals, and, if needed, will arrange for emergency services.
  • Take steps to manage anxiety through resources on the Student Counseling website.
  • A Case Manager in Student Counseling Services can help answer your questions about finding a community health provider. You can also find a therapist in the community through the Student Counseling Services Referral Database or Psychology Today.
  • Illinois State’s free WellTrack app provides evidence-based strategies for learning how to manage anxiety, including relaxation exercises and mood tracking tools. This fall, WellTrack is offering a Resilience Course designed in response to COVID-19 and focuses on developing resilience during a crisis. The app is available to students, faculty, and staff.
  • Virtual workshops, discussion groups, and mindfulness classes are available for free to students, faculty, and staff. Check Redbird Life for more information.
  • The Visor Academic Center can help those feeling overwhelmed academically, by providing tutoring and connecting students with additional resources on campus.
  • Students can be paired with a Peer Academic Coach to help navigate online learning, time management, and communicating with faculty, among others.

It is normal to feel overwhelmed by the many impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, which has created additional stress for many people and their families. In addition to resources specifically for students, there is a wealth of information on the Student Counseling Services website regarding approaches that can assist anyone with finding new, creative, and effective coping resources. In addition, Human Resources provides a variety of resources specifically for employees such as those provided through CMS/Magellan and information provided on the Redbirds Keep Thriving – Faculty/Staff website.

 Spring Planning

Provost Aondover Tarhule said, “There is much anticipation for decisions about spring 2021, which is understandable. Planning for the spring term is progressing.” A team of faculty and staff have been charged with exploring a variety of topics related to spring such as, but not limited to, virtual instruction and the spring academic calendar.  In addition, a survey will be sent to gather feedback from students, faculty, and staff about the options under consideration.

Registration and Withdrawal 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.

Testing

The University will soon require testing of students living in on-campus housing.  More information will be provided to residential students as the process is finalized in the coming days.  Currently, about 30 percent of students living in on-campus housing have participated in on-campus testing. The University has the capacity to expand testing in this way as the number of tests conducted at on-campus testing sites have decreased in the last week after higher than anticipated numbers of tests were completed in the first weeks of the semester. “Expanding the University’s ability to test and requiring students to test has always been part of our testing plan,” said Professor of Chemistry and University Testing Coordinator John Baur. “We faced some logistical challenges as a result of last-minute changes beyond our control to our testing program, but we are in a good position to move forward with requiring testing of various student groups, such as on-campus students, in the very near future.”

Plans to put in place saliva-based testing developed by the University of Illinois are also moving forward. “We are very fortunate to be in a city with a university, that has a lot of the resources needed by the U of I sites, such as labs and research capabilities,” said Vice President for Finance and Planning Dan Stephens, who is working on agreements with the U of I.

Asymptomatic testing for students provided by Reditus Laboratories 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 should call Student Health Services at (309) 438-7676 for an initial screening and to make an appointment to be tested.

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. Sharing test results will ensure students have proper documentation for classes, housing, and/or employment.

See more about testing and testing results in the September 10 update.

Student Conduct

In the wake of an incident last week that reportedly drew students to off-campus gatherings in violation of Town of Normal ordinances, Illinois State University’s Vice President for Student Affairs Levester Johnson reported nearly 100 students have been issued letters of possible Student Code of Conduct violations. “We have received information from students and other community members specifically about people who allegedly were involved in that incident,” said Johnson. “We have worked with the Normal Police Department and the Illinois State University Police Department in this investigation. We appreciate the collaborative approach between the Town and the University in addressing this issue.” Johnson said repercussions for those found responsible could range from educational training to suspension.

Johnson stated no names of students will be released as that would be a violation of privacy laws.

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