This week’s message includes information about vaccine distribution, the Spring 2021 calendar, the COVID-19 on-campus testing program, on-campus testing availability through January 15, and quarantine information.
On January 6, Governor JB Pritzker announced guidelines for the next stage of COVID-19 vaccine distribution across Illinois – Phase 1B. Phase 1B does not include vaccination distribution to institutions of higher education. While Illinois State remains in constant contact with the McLean County Health Department and the Governor’s Office, it has not received information regarding a timeline for when vaccines will become available to the University for distribution to the campus community. At this time, the University anticipates a limited vaccine supply to be available no earlier than the middle of the spring semester. Once a vaccine supply is received by the University, it will be distributed with guidance from local health officials and in accordance with the Illinois Department of Public Health’s (IDPH) vaccination distribution plan.
The IDPH provided updated guidance on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, regarding the State’s vaccine distribution plan for phases 1A and 1B.
Spring 2021 Calendar
The cancellation of Spring Break has necessitated a change to the Academic Calendar for Spring 2021. Those changes are also listed below:
January 11 – Spring classes begin
January 18 – No classes – Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday
March 9-10 – No classes – Personal Well-Being Days. No face-to-face, hybrid, or online classes or exams will be held on these days and no assignments will be due.
April 26-30 – Success Week. Designated as the week that precedes final examinations during both the fall and spring semesters. Tests that amount to more than 10 percent of the course grade may not be given and due. Assignments worth more than 10 percent of the course grade may not be due unless they have been specified on the syllabus distributed within the first two weeks of the semester.
April 28 – Last day of Spring classes.
April 29-30 – No classes – Reading Days. No classes or exams will be held on these days and no assignments will be due providing additional time for students to prepare for final exams.
COVID-19 Testing Program Updates
The University is making a variety of modifications to its COVID-19 testing program. At this time, updates include the following:
- The University began using a COVID-19 antigen test as the primary on-campus testing method on January 4, 2021. This type of test allows for increased testing capacity, quick test results, and the ability to quickly move positive students into isolation and begin contact tracing. It is also affordable and can be processed on campus. When deemed necessary by Student Health Services (e.g., individual is symptomatic or there is high clinical suspicion that an individual has COVID-19), a confirmatory PCR test will be required. Student Health Services recommends being tested twice per week.
- Beginning Monday, January 11, employees may participate in free on-campus COVID-19 testing. Human Resources shared detailed information about this opportunity with employees via email on December 18.
- Students living in on-campus housing are required to participate in COVID-19 entry testing upon return to campus. University Housing Services provided more information to on-campus students via email. The goal of COVID-19 entry testing is to provide information necessary to control outbreaks and inform public health action.
- Illinois State continues to plan for saliva-based PCR testing provided by the University of Illinois-SHIELD Illinois Program. However, the test developed by that program has not received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Additionally, technology for patient registration, specimen collection, and results notification is still in development by the University of Illinois-SHIELD Illinois Program.
Availability of COVID-19 Testing through January 15
Students and employees are strongly encouraged to test upon return to campus after the break.
- January 4-8, 9 a.m.–4 p.m., Monday–Friday: Asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for students will be available at the former fire station at 604 N. Adelaide St., Normal. Only students being tested should enter a testing center. Students living in on-campus housing are required to participate in COVID-19 entry testing upon return to campus. University Housing Services provided more information to on-campus students prior to Move-in for the spring term.
- January 11-15, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday–Friday: COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic students and employees will be available at the temporary building in the parking lot between Watterson Towers and Stevenson Hall and the former fire station at 604 N. Adelaide St., Normal. Only individuals being tested should enter a testing center. Employees working remotely who wish to test are asked to postpone their participation in the testing process until after the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.
Students experiencing COVID-19-related symptoms or who believe that they were exposed to a person with COVID-19 should contact Student Health Services at (309) 438-7676 for direction regarding quarantine and/or to schedule an initial screening and make an appointment to be tested. Symptomatic employees should contact their healthcare provider for testing or to make an appointment.
PCR COVID-19 testing remains 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.
As the number of coronavirus cases continues to increase in McLean County and throughout the state, we must follow all health and safety guidelines such as wearing a face covering and maintaining physical distancing. Remaining diligent in our fight against COVID-19 will help to keep Redbirds healthy and limit the spread on campus and in the Bloomington-Normal community.
Updated Quarantine Guidance
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated their quarantine guidance for persons deemed to be close contacts. Quarantining for 14 days is still recommended, but the following options are acceptable alternate ways to shorten quarantine:
- Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring.
- Quarantine can end after Day 7 if a diagnostic specimen (specifically a PCR test and not an antigen test) tests negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring. The specimen may be collected on Day 6 at the earliest.
More information can be found at the Illinois Department of Public Health website.