By Connor Ciecko
The start of the fall semester is just seven days away, and the University has rolled out a host of new changes and procedures this fall to keep students, staff and faculty safe and healthy. Here’s a recap of what you need to know before you start the school year.
Every member of the university community who is on campus is expected to take a COVID-19 test at a minimum of every four days. There are currently 17 test sites throughout campus. The testing process is simple: do not eat or drink for 30 minutes, arrive at a test site, show your iCard and fill the provided sample container with a small amount of saliva. Results are available as quickly as two hours after and as long as 48 hours depending on capacity. The university will be sending an email to students, staff and faculty in the near future with a questionnaire about their schedule and will assign recommended testing days based on the responses given. Students should be tested immediately upon returning to campus. A full list of sites can be found here.
Coinciding with the testing, the university has also rolled out a new smartphone app that all campus community members are required to download. After logging in with one’s NetID, it will serve as a home base for all relevant COVID information. This includes the most recent test results, a symptom checker, and a pass that will be checked at building entry points. The app can be found on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
In order to enter any university buildings, a health liaison will be checking each person’s status in the app. If their last test was more than four days ago, they have tested positive or have been in contact with someone who tested positive, the app will deny them entry.
In addition to the entry pass, the app also has a feature for opt-in exposure notifications. This uses a phone’s Bluetooth antenna to keep track of who and for how long the person was in contact with and can notify them if any of those contacts test positive. This does not use the tracing API developed jointly by Google and Apple.
The university is providing students with personal protective equipment kits. These kits include two Illinois branded masks, a hand sanitizer, alcohol wipes, and a ‘key’ for pressing buttons and high contact surfaces. Resident hall residents will get these upon check-in to their rooms. Students living on their own in apartments should pick them up from the Illini Union. Full details can be found here.
Outside of university-sponsored events, it is incredibly vital to continue to follow health department recommendations and best practices. This includes washing hands frequently, wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding large social gatherings such as parties and bars. If you test positive for COVID, or have been around someone who tested positive, the CDC recommends quarantining for 14 days and monitoring your symptoms.
With approximately 40,000 students and 10,000 faculty members, it is crucial that every member of the campus community does their part to keep everyone safe. According to Bioengineering Professor Sergi Maslov, current estimates show that if everyone follows the rules, then the most cases that we can expect to see on campus is 500.
Do your part to keep yourself, and your community, healthy and safe this school year.
Photo by University of Illinois