Weekly update, February 18, 2021 

This week’s message includes updated information about the expansion of Phase 1B eligibility, vaccine distribution and FAQs, and COVID-19 testing availability.    

Visit Illinois State University’s Coronavirus website for the most up-to-date information and guidance. Questions can be emailed to coronavirus@ilstu.edu.          

Expansion of Phase 1B eligibility 

The Office of the Governor announced on Wednesday, February 10, that Phase 1B of the Illinois Department of Public Health’s vaccination distribution plan will expand beginning February 25 to include individuals with high-risk medical conditions and will prioritize individuals with disabilities.  Read the press release for more about the expansion of Phase 1B.  

At this time, the University will not be vaccinating employees with high-risk medical conditions in Phase 1B based on their high-risk medical conditions. Employees with high-risk medical conditions should continue to consult with their primary care physician prior to vaccination and seek vaccination through other sources.  However, this is subject to change based on receiving further guidance from IDPH.  

Vaccine distribution and FAQs 

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and on-campus vaccination clinics by reading the FAQs on the Coronavirus website.   

As a group, higher education is not currently included in the Illinois Department of Public Health’s (IDPH) vaccine distribution plan. Higher education leaders from across the state continue to advocate for colleges and universities to be included in earlier phases of the IDPH vaccine distribution plan through outreach to the Office of the Governor.    

On February 11, version 6 of the IDPH COVID-19 Vaccination Plan was released, and higher education was not included. However, the plan states that, Phase 1C is still in draft form based on the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations.  Further updates are expected to be released within the next two weeks for Phase 1C for the context of Illinois. 

However, there are categories of individuals who will qualify as the state moves through various phases of the plan. The state is currently prioritizing Phase 1A and 1B, which includes the following on-campus groups: healthcare, first responders, individuals 65 and over, and K-12 educators. As mentioned above, Phase 1B has been expanded beginning February 25 to include individuals with high-risk medical conditions and will prioritize individuals with disabilities.  

There is no requirement that employees be vaccinated on campus. Employees are encouraged to take advantage of any opportunity to be vaccinated whether on campus, in the community, or by their health care provider. Learn more about McLean County Health Department vaccination clinics.    

Illinois State University remains in constant contact with the McLean County Health Department (MCHD) regarding vaccine availability for the campus community.  MCHD determines when and how much vaccine the University receives based on the distribution of vaccines from the state and need at the University which is based on guidance from IDPH.    

University employees eligible to receive the vaccine in accordance with the IDPH vaccine distribution plan will receive a prenotification email at their ilstu email from Student Health Services indicating that the vaccine is expected to be received soon. When the University receives the vaccine for persons in a phase, eligible employees will be notified by email and provided instructions on how to schedule an appointment to receive the vaccine.   

Employees should notify their supervisors once an appointment is made to ensure the operational needs of the department are met.  ISU hourly employees may use release time to obtain the first and second COVID-19 vaccine doses on campus, including any required monitoring time at the vaccination location immediately following receipt of the vaccine.  Employees receiving the vaccine will be given documentation indicating the time they departed the vaccination area.  Hourly employees should provide this document to their supervisor immediately upon their return to their department to support the use of release time.    

While participation is not required, all employees are strongly encouraged to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.  Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites.     

At this time, there is no information available from state or county officials regarding the timing of mass vaccination for the campus community.     

COVID-19 testing  
Students and employees are encouraged to participate in bi-weekly COVID-19 testing.  Only individuals being tested should enter a testing center.  Antigen testing for asymptomatic students and employees is available from 9 a.m.  4 p.m., Monday  Friday, in the temporary building in the parking lot between Watterson Towers and Stevenson Hall and the former fire station at 604 N. Adelaide St., Normal.    

In the event of extreme weather conditions, such as air temperatures or wind chills below zero, the fire station testing site will be closed, but the testing center in the parking lot between Watterson Towers and Stevenson Hall will remain open if conditions allow.  Visit the Student Health Services website for the most up-to-date information about testing.  

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.