University News

Spring 2021 COVID-19 Updates: Office of Risk Management

January 13, 2021


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Dear Western Illinois University Community,

Happy new year! We'd like to take this opportunity to share updates about the Spring 2021 semester. We had a successful fall, but the COVID-19 pandemic remains a fluid and ever-changing situation. With your help and commitment, we can start the semester off strong to avoid a spike in cases. Information regarding campus protocols and safety can be found at wiu.edu/coronavirus. If you have any questions about this information, please email covid-19@wiu.edu.

Spring Testing Program

WIU is continuing its on-campus testing program to quickly identify symptomatic and close contact cases, providing results the same day a test is completed at our on-site Union location for the Macomb campus. This allows us to identify positive individuals, facilitate isolation, and quickly initiate case management and contact tracing. Testing at the Quad Cities campus also continues, using the saliva-based tests, which can be picked up and dropped off at Riverfront Hall.

As spring move-in begins Saturday, Jan. 16, all students who live in WIU residence halls are required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test (taken AFTER January 6, 2021) before receiving their residence hall room key. Upon arrival to their respective residence hall, students will be asked to show proof of their negative test with a hard copy document or on their mobile device. Students who reside off campus and employees of the University are not required to show proof of a negative test at this time; however, are still encouraged to complete a COVID-19 test before returning to campus. In the weeks ahead, the campus will transition back to weekly surveillance testing for the remainder of the semester.

More information regarding testing, as well as frequently asked questions related to the protocols for this upcoming weekend can be found at wiu.edu/returntocampus.

Tier II Mitigations

Last week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that Illinois would move to Tier II mitigations Friday, Jan. 15. At this time, the University will remain in Tier III (adjusted protocols from November 2020). This includes gatherings of no more than 10 in attendance, no seating in dining centers and food courts, and limited capacities in locations such as the recreation center and bookstore, etc.

We are committed to working with our University community and realize that with a new semester underway, some events may be able to proceed based on the nature of the event, staffing, and precautionary measures that event planners implement. Event planners should work with the Scheduling and Events Services Office to review plans in order to safely execute their event. The scheduling form can be found at wiu.edu/policies/covid_scheduling.php.

In the subsequent weeks, a review of where we stand as a campus will be completed and additional information will be communicated.

Travel Policies

The University has amended its travel policy for the spring semester and made adjustments based on feedback from the fall semester, as well as recent information from health agencies.

To view the updated travel policy, please visit wiu.edu/policies. University community members who need to travel for official University business should follow the procedures outlined in the travel policy. Individuals will no longer be asked to voluntarily disclose personal travel through the online form. Instead, individuals are asked to reference the chart at the bottom of the travel policy and follow the appropriate travel guidance. For more information or questions, e-mail rmep@wiu.edu.

Face Coverings and Sanitizer

Face coverings continue to be required on campus, both indoors and outdoors. All students returning to the residence halls can pick up new or replacement face coverings, in addition to a small bottle of sanitizer as they check-in. For off-campus students and employees, replacement face coverings and sanitizer can be picked up at the University Union Service Center. For more information regarding face coverings and other campus COVID-19 procedures, wiu.edu/coronavirus.

Daily Self-Check

Throughout the past semester, we have learned a great deal about COVID-19 and have adjusted our campus protocols and policies appropriately to allow for flexibility, while at the same time maintaining a safe campus environment.

Beginning Tuesday, Jan. 19 all members of the University community must complete the daily self-check, located at wiu.edu/selfcheck. An email will be sent each day at 10 a.m. reminding individuals to complete their self-check if they have not yet submitted one. As a reminder, it is impossible to know whether a person is planning to be on campus or not, so even individuals telecommuting or taking online classes will receive the reminder emails. If you are not physically on WIU's campus, you do not need to submit a daily self-check.

Quarantine and Isolation Updates

The University will continue its robust COVID-19 response procedures regarding isolation and quarantine when cases are reported. Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will be isolated for a period of 10 days. Individuals who are close contacts and directed to quarantine are subject to a 10-day quarantine, with the ability to be tested after day five. Information regarding isolation and quarantine can be found at wiu.edu/coronavirus.

On-Campus Vaccinations

Western Illinois University is working closely with our local health departments (McDonough and Rock Island counties) regarding COVID-19 vaccines in conjunction with the State of Illinois vaccination plan.

At this time, the McDonough County Health Department will remain the entity responsible for the distribution and allocation of vaccines in the Macomb region. WIU is identifying campus entities and groups that fall within the vaccination categories and submitting those lists to the appropriate health departments. To date, several members of our campus health center have been vaccinated, as well as individuals working directly as transporters and staffing for our COVID-19 response efforts. Students working in health care settings, members of our Office of Public Safety, and other individuals who are eligible for vaccination based on the state vaccination plan are being communicated to and scheduled.

As we progress through this plan, other groups and individuals will be contacted with more information. WIU will also to continue to assist the county with providing resources as applicable. We ask for your patience as we await further information and direction about subsequent phases in vaccine distributions. Please understand it will likely be several months before the vaccine is widely available to the general public.

Leatherneck Pledge

While news of the vaccine is encouraging, we must continue to be diligent in following the Leatherneck Pledge. COVID-19 is still present in our community. Face coverings over your mouth and nose continue to be required on campus, as well as physical distancing, frequent handwashing, and staying home when you're sick.

We know how important social interaction is to our health and wellbeing. Our fall data was clear – transmission primarily occurred in social situations where mitigation practices were not followed. Don't risk your health, and the health of your friends, colleagues and co-workers, and family members. While you may not get seriously ill from COVID-19, you could unintentionally pass the virus to others.

Remain vigilant with healthy habits and show respect, and care for, one another. Let our Protect the 'Necks plan guide us in having a great spring semester.

Thank you,
Joe Roselieb
Office of Risk Management

Posted By: WIU News (U-Relations@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations