Julian Castillo | @julcastillophotography
With students coming back from winter break, Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIU) has decided to increase COVID-19 testing and offer more vaccine clinics.
Chancellor Lane emailed a statement to faculty, staff, and students instituting a policy for them to have negative test results before classes began.
“With the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, we have adjusted our plans for the spring semester. Upon return to campus, all on-campus employees and students, including those who are fully vaccinated, must be tested for COVID-19 to ensure we maintain the public health of our campus community as we launch the spring semester,” Lane said.
Students and faculty were required to be tested before the semester started on January 10. Lane said.
Another statement made by the university on January 21 said 77% of students and 84% of faculty have been vaccinated.
Benjamin Newman, the Chief of Police at SIU and the head of the Emergency Operations Center, said they are keeping everyone updated the best they can about the current status of COVID-19 at the university.
“The number of individuals who have tested positive on our campus is smaller than the test positivity rate within the county and within the state.” Newman said. “We have been keeping track and producing numbers daily for the last a week and a half. Part of that was weekly submission to the dashboard.”
The university is constantly updating the COVID-19 dashboard as a way to keep students and faculty aware of the current state of the pandemic, Newman said.
According to Newman the school has no plans to change the COVID-19 policy as of right now, but will continue to follow the guidelines set for by health agencies.
“In response to [our] COVID-19 plan, our planning has to be fluid and amenable. What we’re looking at is not only trends on campus, but the state and nationally,” Newman said. “So we take everything, every bit of information into account but also consider that [the] Center for Disease Control(CDC), Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the governor’s office has regulations that we also comply with.”
If any changes to COVID-19 safety guidelines are changed by the CDC, or any other organization, they will adjust the school’s policy accordingly, Newman said.
SIU hosted a booster shot clinic in the Student Center Renaissance Room on the 19th and 20th.
164 people were scheduled and administered 82 Pfizer, 39 Moderna and 18 Johnson & Johnson boosters with fewer regular vaccines being distributed.
David Boedeker, the clinic’s liaison officer, sent a situation report to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA).
According to the report the clinic opened early with huge demand resulting in them calling for more resources according to the report.
There weren’t enough Medical Assistants for a steady pace, which led some people to leave out of frustration. Boedeker said
After calling in nurses from Favorite Healthcare Staffing and getting them situated, wait time was able to go from one to two hours to 30 minutes, Boedeker said.
SIU went through the IDPH, which offers an application to request vaccination clinics. Boedeker said.
The application asks for the basic information of the organization requesting the clinic, suggested location of the clinic, if there are any vaccine access barriers near the location and similar questions. The application allows them to properly prepare the clinic.
The application goes to the IDPH and they contact the host who submitted the application. They pair them with side assessors who make sure the host has everything it needs for the clinic.
After assessors send their assessment report to the IDPH, the host receives information about the time and place for the clinic.
Boedeker said progress was being made with getting people coming in to get vaccinated since he also worked clinics at SIU during September and October distributing regular vaccines.
Returning people getting second doses show the clinics were helpful, resulting in more people showing up to the booster clinic. Boedeker said
During the vaccine clinics in September and October, only a few people would come over the span of eight hours. Now the clinics sometimes have a full house the entire time.
Around 300 people would be getting a booster/vaccination over the span of the two day clinic and are not expecting another anytime soon after speaking with the host. Boedeker said.
Newman said he believes, with the progress made from the school to get students tested, there should be little worry about case spikes.
“What we’re doing is tracking cases not only on campus, but statewide and nationwide, and the trend right now is COVID cases are actually not increasing. They’re either plateauing in areas or actually declining. But we remain fluid and our plan is amenable to changes in the COVID cases,” Neman said.
Staff reporters Janiyah Gaston and Jamilah Lewis can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected] To stay up to date with all your Southern Illinois news follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.