This week’s message includes information about expanding vaccine eligibility on April 12, Illinois State University vaccination clinics, second dose vaccination clinics, new COVID-19 testing hours, emergency grant funds, returning to on-campus work, and guidance for those who are fully vaccinated.
Expanding vaccine eligibility on April 12
Governor Pritzker announced today that anyone 16 and older will become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, April 12. In addition, information was provided regarding steps that will assist Illinois with reaching Phase 5, including a bridge phase between Phase 4 and 5. The importance of continuing to follow public health guidance and taking advantage of vaccination clinics throughout the state were provided as key strategies to reaching Phase 5.
With this information, the University is continuing its planning for a return to a traditional campus experience with students in the classroom, living in on-campus housing, and participating in in-person events and activities. “Based on the very encouraging information provided by Governor Pritzker today, I am very optimistic about the progress that will be made in the next several weeks. All indicators are pointing in the right direction to help us reach Phase 5 and return to an in-person on-campus fall semester,” said President Dietz.
Illinois State University Vaccination Clinics
Illinois State University is collaborating with the McLean County Health Department to provide on-campus vaccination clinics for Illinois State students, faculty, and staff who are eligible under Phase 1A, 1B, and Phase 1B+. The first clinic will be held Thursday, March 25, for up to 300 eligible individuals.
At this time, it is anticipated that there will be one clinic per week, staffed by an 18-person Illinois National Guard team for members of the University community. The number of clinics offered may change based on vaccine availability. Clinics will continue to be located in the Bone Student Center. (See below for important information about second dose vaccination clinics.)
Individuals must show their Redbird ID Card upon arrival to the clinic and be an eligible Illinois State University student or employee to receive a vaccine at this on-campus location. Learn more about clinic dates and registration by visiting the Coronavirus website. 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.
Students and employees are encouraged to seek additional opportunities for vaccination as campus clinics will be limited based on vaccine availability. In addition to clinics held on-campus, learn more about McLean County Health Department and statewide vaccination clinics. There is no requirement that students and employees be vaccinated on campus.
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.
Employees should notify their supervisors once an appointment is made to ensure the operational needs of the department are met if the appointment is during the employee’s scheduled work hours. 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.
At this time, there is no information available from state or county officials regarding the timing of mass vaccination for the entire campus community.
Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and on-campus vaccination clinics by reading the FAQs on the Coronavirus website.
Second Dose Vaccination Clinics
Individuals who have received a first dose vaccine at an on-campus vaccination clinic from January – March 19, will receive a prenotification email at their ilstu email from Student Health Services indicating that the vaccine is expected to be received soon. Information about how to sign up for a second dose will be included in the email.
Going forward, individuals who participate in on-campus clinics that are staffed by the Illinois National Guard will make their second dose appointment at the clinic. Student Health Services will have very limited involvement in clinics staffed by the Illinois National Guard; therefore, an email will not be sent by Student Health Services to individuals participating in Illinois National Guard vaccination clinics. Learn more about clinic dates and registration by visiting the Coronavirus website.
New COVID-19 testing hours
As members of the campus community become vaccinated and positivity rates remain low, COVID-19 testing hours will be reduced beginning on Monday, March 22.
Antigen testing for asymptomatic students and employees will be available Monday – Friday at the following times and locations:
- 9 a.m. – Noon, Former fire station at 604 N. Adelaide St., Normal
- 1 – 4 p.m., Temporary building in the parking lot between Watterson Towers and Stevenson Hall
Please note, both locations will be available from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. through Friday, March 19. Students and employees are encouraged to participate in bi-weekly COVID-19 testing. Only individuals being tested should enter a testing center.
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, which has recently reduced days of operation due to changes in public demand. 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.
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 years 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.