This week’s message includes information about planning for a more traditional 2021-22 academic year, Personal Well-Being Days, Phase 1B+ eligibility, vaccine distribution and FAQs, sign-up for on-campus vaccination clinics, 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

Planning for the 2021-22 Academic Year
Illinois State University is planning for a more traditional campus experience for the 2021-22 academic year. “Students will be on campus participating in face-to-face courses, living in on-campus housing, engaging in in-person activities, events, and out-of-classroom experiences,” said President Larry Dietz.

On Tuesday, March 2, the Biden-Harris administration announced that vaccine production will ramp up through a partnership with Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and the federal government. As a result of that effort, it is anticipated that there will be enough vaccine for every eligible American by the end of May, two months earlier than initially expected.

As a result of the federal government’s commitment to significantly increase access to the coronavirus vaccine, students, faculty, and staff will have the opportunity to be vaccinated in advance of the fall semester.

The University will continue to monitor the progress of the vaccination roll-out in Illinois and throughout the country as we progress through the spring and summer months and share updates periodically about how progress impacts planning for the upcoming academic year.

Personal Well-Being Days, March 9-10
On March 9 and 10, students will have two days with no classes, no assignments, and an opportunity to focus on their own well-being. There are a variety of events, services, and programs being offered virtually and in-person. For a full list of events, and to see when they are happening, please visit Redbirds Keep Thriving. Also note, some events require registration through Redbird Life.

Some of the events include the following:

  • Snack stations on the second floor of the Bone Student Center
  • Customized food bowls (meal plan required) at Marketplace at Linkins and Watterson Dining Commons
  • Backyard games (KanJam, Spikeball, bags, ladder golf) outside the Student Fitness Center
  • Virtual trivia
  • Finding Nemo and Pitch Perfect at Braden Auditorium
  • Virtual card-making service project
  • Virtual talk “Cole & Charisma: Contributing to an Inclusive Student Body”
  • Virtual cookies and karaoke
  • Specialty group fitness classes
  • Wellness bags outside the Student Fitness Center
  • Tea @ Three in the Student Involvement Center at the Bone Student Center
  • Rejuvenation Station with giveaways, food, and more in the Prairie Room at the Bone Student Center

Phase 1B+ eligibility
The Office of the Governor announced on Wednesday, February 10, that Phase 1B of the Illinois Department of Public Health’s (IDPH) vaccination distribution plan would expand beginning February 25 to include individuals with high-risk medical conditions and will prioritize individuals with disabilities. This expansion is referred to as Phase 1B+.   

The State of Illinois is moving ahead as scheduled with Phase 1B+. However, the University has been informed by the McLean County Health Department (MCHD) that the county will not begin Phase 1B+ and will continue with original Phase 1B eligible individuals at this time. The University remains in close contact with the MCHD and will continue to monitor the progress of vaccine distribution in McLean County. Learn more about vaccine distribution in McLean County and the IDPH vaccine distribution plan. 

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.    

The University continues to provide vaccinations to faculty, staff, and students eligible under Phase 1A and the original 1B which includes the following on-campus groups: healthcare, first responders, individuals 65 and over, and K-12 educators as the vaccine is made available to the University. 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.  It is not known when the county will begin vaccinations in Phase 1B+. 

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.      

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.     

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.