This week’s message includes information about emergency grant funds, returning to on-campus work, guidance for those who are fully vaccinated, vaccine distribution and FAQs, sign-up for on-campus vaccination clinics, and COVID-19 testing availability.
Emergency Grant Funds
Illinois State University has received $8,060,711 from the federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) to provide emergency financial aid grants to eligible students due to the financial impact of coronavirus. The federal government requires that institutions prioritize students with exceptional need, such as students who receive Pell Grants, in awarding financial aid grants to students. Since many students have been impacted financially by the coronavirus, the Financial Aid Office used the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to identify students with the most financial need. To date, over $7,200,000 of the funds have been awarded to more than 8,300 eligible students. Students receiving awards were notified on Tuesday, March 9.
Students that did not meet the initial awarding criteria and can demonstrate extenuating financial need may submit a detailed explanation for consideration of grant funds through an online application process. The application will be posted on March 19, 2021 to the Financial Aid Office website.
Returning to on-campus work
As we look forward to a more traditional campus experience for the 2021-22 academic year that includes face-to-face courses and in person activities, the University is also planning a return to on-campus work beginning this summer. As a reminder, the Temporary Work from Home agreements for staff that have been in place in various iterations since the start of the pandemic expire on or before June 30. A working group, made up of representatives from all four vice presidential divisions and shared governance groups, is developing an updated work-from-home policy. We anticipate that policy will be finalized by the end of April, giving staff and supervisors sufficient time to address any concerns regarding a return to campus.
Guidance for those who are fully vaccinated
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shared that there is more to learn about how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, as the coronavirus vaccine becomes more widely available, it is important to be aware of updated public health guidance. The CDC has released new guidance regarding appropriate precautions for those who are fully vaccinated. Visit the CDC website to learn more.
Illinois State University continues to follow the public health guidance as described in the Governor’s Restore Illinois plan. Expectations for the use of face coverings and physical distancing on campus have not changed.
Vaccine distribution and FAQs
Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and on-campus vaccination clinics by reading the FAQs on the Coronavirus website.
The University continues to provide vaccinations to faculty, staff, and students eligible under Phase 1A and the original 1B. Even though the state has moved into Phase 1B+, which includes individuals with high-risk medical conditions and disabilities, McLean County remains focused on meeting the vaccination needs of individuals in Phase 1A and the original 1B. The McLean County Health Department estimates our area will be able to move into 1B+ distribution within the next few weeks.
The University anticipates being able to vaccinate employees and students with high-risk medical conditions in Phase 1B+. When the University receives vaccines to distribute to this group, additional information will be provided. Meanwhile, employees and students with high-risk medical conditions should continue to consult with their primary care physician prior to vaccination and seek vaccination through other sources. Additionally, those who are eligible for 1B+ vaccines may register now at a state-run vaccination clinic. 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.
Sign-up for on-campus vaccination clinics
Please note: The process described below is expected to change as the state moves into subsequent vaccine distribution phases. Information about new processes will be provided in the COVID-19 Weekly Update and on the Coronavirus website.
At this time, 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 website.
At this time, there is no information available from state or county officials regarding the timing of mass vaccination for the campus community.
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 as well as the former fire station at 604 N. Adelaide St., Normal.
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.
Visit the Student Health Services website for the most up-to-date information about testing.