URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — The University of Illinois is changing testing requirements for some students, faculty, and staff. Certain people will only have to get tested once a week instead of twice like they were doing previously. That change starts today, but it doesn’t affect undergraduates.
“I think that the majority of the cases so far – and I think the surrounding area knows that too – have come from the undergraduate community,” said graduate student Kyle Warbinton.
In fact, University of Illinois leaders say that more than 95% of COVID-19 cases on campus are from undergraduate students. On the flip side – faculty, staff and graduate students are considered “extremely low” risk. Those who fall under that low risk category are now only required to test once a week, whereas undergrads will need to do it twice.
“I think that’s better that they still are making the undergrads do twice a week just because of their lifestyle,” said staff member Terrence Washington.
University leaders say these new rules will lower wait times and help them contact people who test positive more quickly. Washington say he’s willing to test as often as needed but says it makes sense that staff like him should have to do it less often.
“I think it won’t hurt us at all as long as everybody’s doing their job and doing their part to make sure that the COVID-19 isn’t getting out of hand,” said Washington.
Thankfully, student Winnie Wu is helping streamline testing for everyone. She created an app that shows how long the wait time is at each site on campus.
“I think this would be really beneficial as in, I might have to walk an extra block or two to get to the next testing center with a shorter line, but I’m still going to do it if it fits into my schedule better,” explained Wu.
The university is predicting that testing this semester alone will cost them $10 million. That money will come from reserves set aside for risk management. The University of Illinois does ask that faculty, staff and graduate students get tested either on the weekend or on Wednesdays. Some undergraduate students who are at a higher risk of “recent exposure” may be asked to test three times a week.