Fall 2021 COVID-19 Response

Key updates for the fall 2021 semester:

Vaccine Requirement and FAQ  |  Masks  |  Testing  |  In-Person Class Attendance  |  Health Monitoring, Quarantines  |  Events and Activity Hosting |  Dashboard

FAQ for Faculty: Protocols for Contact Tracing, Notifications, Absences

Vaccines: As of Aug. 2, 83% of students and 95% of faculty/staff are vaccinated or plan to be by the start of the fall semester. 

  • Vaccine requirement:  With FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, announced Aug. 23, we are enacting our vaccine requirement and students will have 45 days (approximately October 1) to be fully vaccinated or be approved for an exemption. Vaccines need not be from Pfizer to meet the requirement; we will accept all FDA and WHO authorized vaccines. Students may apply for an exemption by contacting Arnold Health Services, healthservices@iwu.edu. Please note that, consistent with other required vaccinations, Illinois Wesleyan does not allow exemptions based on personal or philosophical reasons.
  • Pending vaccination:  Students should update their vaccination status using this form. Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated students will continue surveillance testing until fully vaccinated (2 weeks after the final dose). After the 45 day period has passed, unvaccinated students will test weekly for the remainder of the semester and will need to get fully vaccinated before registering for the Spring semester. Further mitigation strategies may be implemented if our community health warrants additional interventions.  
Vaccines FAQ

If I am young and healthy why do I need to be vaccinated?

It feels like we have been ‘dealing’ with COVID-19 for a long time, but in terms of understanding the impact and full disease process of COVID-19 we still have so much to learn. Vaccines are proven public health interventions intended to prevent you from getting sick or experiencing severe disease. The COVID-19 vaccine also provides protective measures for those around you, particularly those individuals that are not able to get the COVID-19 vaccine or those who are immunocompromised. 

I have had COVID-19 so why do I need to be vaccinated? 

The science community is working to understand how long your protection lasts after recovering from COVID-19, and studies show mixed results and can depend on the severity of infection experienced. The emergence of variants, such as the Delta variant, are proving to escape the immune response of natural infection, however, more data and information about durable immunity after infection is still needed. Studies have shown that vaccination provides a strong boost in protection in people who have recovered from COVID-19, studies can found here , here , and here. More information can be found here on why getting the COVID-19 vaccine is a safer way to build protection than getting infected. Additionally, Illinois Wesleyan students who are fully vaccinated are exempt from baseline and surveillance testing as well as quarantine following known exposure to an infected individual. 

Is the COVID-19 Vaccine safe? They developed the vaccine so fast, I don’t know I can trust it.

Yes. Scientists have established that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports as of August 12, 2021 over 4 billion COVID-19 vaccines have been given globally also through rigorous and continued monitoring of vaccine safety. More information on vaccine development can be found here.

What does it mean to be fully vaccinated?

Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two (2) weeks after the last dose of a 2-dose COVID-19 vaccine series (such as Pfizer or Moderna); or, two (2) weeks after a single-dose vaccine (such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine).

More information can be found here:

 

Masking - Still Required: Given current CDC and McLean County Health Department guidance, masks must be worn at all times in public areas indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

  • Masks are not required for vaccinated individuals attending any outdoor activity, unless distancing is not possible.
  • Since the vaccination rate in McLean County is around 50% and positivity rates are rising, masking is still advised when interacting outside our campus community with individuals whose vaccine status is unknown (e.g., grocery store).

Mask FAQs:

Q: Are certain types of masks required? 

A: All students, faculty and staff should follow the CDC guidelines regarding masks that provide adequate protection from viral transmission and must wear masks properly. We have been asked recently about mesh masks (e.g., the UnMask) which do not provide adequate protection. 

Q: Are masks required outside?  

A: Titans are expected to wear masks in any group setting or crowd, including outdoors. Regardless of vaccine status, crowds hold a significant risk, particularly when vaccine status of others is unknown. We strongly encourage masking in any group activity outdoors (including most classes taught outside). If you have any questions about appropriate class adjustments based on pedagogical needs, please contact Becky Roesner, Associate Provost.  

 

Testing: For those who choose to remain unvaccinated, ongoing testing is required. We also encourage any student, staff or faculty members (including those who are fully vaccinated) who have concerns about their virus exposure or who have even the mildest of physical symptoms to be tested. Opt-in testing for all Titans is available weekly. Register here.

  • Surveillance/Unvaccinated: Unvaccinated students must participate in ongoing surveillance testing, at their own expense. Vaccinated students do not need to participate in surveillance testing.
  • Expense: Unvaccinated students requiring testing (if exposed to a COVID positive person or if symptomatic), or vaccinated students who develop COVID-like symptoms, requiring testing, will do so at their expense. Students will be directed to testing facilities (including Walgreens on Main Street across from campus) who will bill their health insurance.

In-Person Classes:

  • Students in need of medical accommodations should work through disability services for any class adjustments. 

Health monitoring and responding to illness:

  • Health monitoring: Students are expected to continue monitoring their health for symptoms consistent with COVID-19. If you are experiencing any symptoms, you must contact Arnold Health Services, so that we can monitor and do all we can to prevent the spread of illness. Do not self-diagnose or congregate with others (e.g., class, activities, work, athletic practice) until cleared by AHS.
  • Positive for COVID-19: COVID-19 positive students will need to make personal arrangements for isolation off-campus. We encourage students to go home, if possible. We will have a list of available hotels offering a special IWU rate for students for your choosing and at your expense (hotel, transportation and meals). The University will not be providing these arrangements this year. Students with financial hardship may apply to the Titan Student Emergency Fund for COVID-19 illness expenses.
  • Exposure/Unvaccinated: If exposed to someone who is positive for COVID-19 or if symptomatic, unvaccinated students will need to quarantine for 10 days. Unvaccinated students will be encouraged to test approximately 5 days post exposure. An unvaccinated student who is symptomatic with pending testing results may be required to quarantine off-campus.
  • Exposure/Vaccinated: Vaccinated students exposed to someone who is positive for COVID-19 are encouraged to test and will quarantine only if symptoms exist. Fully vaccinated students who are asymptomatic are exempt from quarantine as a close contact, unless symptomatic. In contrast, a partially vaxed or unvaxed close contact will quarantine for 10 days. Testing is recommended 3-5 days post exposure if asymptomatic, and required if the student is symptomatic.
    Arnold Health Services will confirm vaccination status and make all decisions in identifying close contacts and quarantine requirements. 
  • Quarantine and isolation housing will not be provided this fall, due to widespread availability of the vaccine and limited unoccupied housing. 
  • Eligibility for Return to Campus: If you are currently undergoing quarantine because you have had exposure to a known positive case or after receiving a positive result from a PCR test within the last 14 days, please do not come to campus. 

Events and activity hosting:

  • Campus residential communities may sponsor events only if over 75% of residents are vaccinated. 
  • At this time, all IWU-sponsored, non-class events can occur as long as 6 foot distancing and masking are honored. Events and meetings that can be effectively managed virtually are encouraged to do so. If you have questions about appropriate non-class adjustments for events, please contact Kevin Carey, Associate Dean of Students.  

 

FAQ for Faculty

Q.  My students have been notifying me that they are waiting for a COVID test, have tested positive for COVID, have been exposed to COVID etc., but I haven't received notice from the Dean of Students Office. What should my next steps be?  

A.  Temporarily excuse the student from in-person obligations and advise them, if they have not already done so, to contact Arnold Health Services (AHS) about their situation.  Sometimes students are self-diagnosing, or may have information about non-IWU contacts, so it is important that they communicate formally with AHS. Arnold Health Services will 1. instruct the student regarding appropriate health steps, 2. determine if isolation or quarantine is necessary, and 3. prompt the Dean of Students office to notify faculty about required isolation or quarantine. Because test results, contact tracing, and preparing notifications all take time, there will typically be a delay between when a student reaches out to you and when formal notification occurs.  

Q.  How is a close contact defined?

A.  A close contact has been within 6 feet of a COVID-positive person for a total of 15 minutes or more (those minutes don't need to be consecutive) within 48 hours of testing. Masks are important, but do not factor into the close contact equation. 

Q.  I've been notified by a student (or students) that they've tested positive for COVID-19. My other students have clearly been near those students, but haven't been formally identified as close contacts. What should my next steps be?

A. Arnold Health Services (AHS) asks students about close contacts and attempts to secure details about all activities that could place others at risk. If students are unable to identify proximal individuals in class, AHS may reach out to you for assistance. It could be helpful to the process if you have a seating chart for immediate access. Please do not disclose the health status of individual students to the class or advise the class to test or quarantine. You may let the class know that you are making temporary changes to the course activities or mode because the outbreak is directly impacting classmates.

Q.  What records of attendance and seating should I be keeping for contact tracing purposes?

A.  Where possible, please use assigned seating and have students work in fixed groups. Remind students to know the names of other students, faculty, and staff within 6 feet of themselves. 

Q.  How should I navigate student absences?

A.  In the summer, when we anticipated lower rates of COVID, the university communicated the following to students:

Class absences:  Beginning this fall, class absences related to COVID-19 will be treated similarly to other health absences in accordance with faculty policies provided in their syllabi. Faculty will provide reasonable, customary arrangements for students to keep up with course material during short-term absences. Because our focus this fall will be on an engaging return to in-person instruction, remote attendance of in-person courses should not be expected. As in previous years, make-up work is negotiated between the student and faculty member at the faculty member’s discretion.

However, our case numbers are higher than anticipated such that it is also reasonable to consider some of the strategies for absences that colleagues used last year including recording class sessions, allowing students to Zoom in, or moving the class temporarily online (currently approved through Sept. 10 with subsequent re-evaluation). The most important thing is to stay in communication with absent students and make sure they understand what they need to be doing to keep up or catch up.