BY RACHEL GREENE, Western Courier E
MACOMB, Ill. (Western Courier) — With a new calendar year, a new University president and a new semester came new COVID-19 protocols. Faced with less uncertainty than last semester but still proceeding with a sense of caution, new protocols that have been put in place are more concrete than they were previously.
In a post on his Facebook page, the new Western Illinois University President Guiyou Huang wrote, “Please take a moment to read about the updates and protocols for Spring 2021 so we can have a safe and healthy in-person experience. I look forward to meeting our students, faculty and staff as they return for the spring semester.” The aforementioned up dates included a new man date that all students mov ing into the residence halls for the spring semester were required to show a negative COVID-19 test that had been administered recently prior to being given their room keys. If students did not want to adhere to this, they were required to either quarantine in Bayliss Hall for two weeks or leave campus. This mandate was something that the University did not enforce in the fall.
In an email from the Western Illinois University Office of Risk Management, Joe Roselieb, Executive Di rector of Auxiliary Services and Risk Management said, “Our goal is to quickly identify individuals who may be symptomatic, and iso late them safely to help stop the spread of COVID-19. As part of the Leatherneck Pledge, it is the expectation that all individuals follow these protocols to keep our campuses safe.”
“I am very happy that the University required students to get tested before coming back to campus this semester.” said senior student Allison Glover. “Over the long break, many students went home to highly populated areas and I personally feel safer knowing that these students tested negative prior to return ing. Even though COVID-19 can be caught at any time and these students could be positive now, I think this mandate was a step in the right direction. Last semester cases seemed to spike at the beginning of the semester so it is my hope that by testing we have avoided that surge.”
Testing is available for free currently on both the Macomb and Quad Cities campuses. While it is not mandatory for students residing off campus to get tested, the University is encouraging them to do their part in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Currently, events on campus are being approved on a case by case basis and are limited to 10 people or less. The mandate regarding masks on campus that was put in place last semester still stands and social distancing is still encouraged.
At this point, no statement has been made by Western Illinois University regard ing whether or not more mandatory testing will be enforced for students this semester or if the university will distribute the newly approved COVID-19 vaccine to students. There has also been no statement made regarding whether or not the vaccine will be mandatory for students on campus or students in general.