University of Illinois takes COVID-19 precautions for start of spring semester

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CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — The University of Illinois is taking precautions as students return for the spring semester.

In a message to students, Chancellor Robert Jones said their Shield Team is predicting an increase in COVID-19 cases as more people get back to campus. “We also expect to see the highly contagious B117 variant enter our community,” said Jones. “This variant of the virus appears to spread 50 percent faster than any other strains. It has already caused the UK to go into lockdown and has already been detected in our state. In the next several weeks it is absolutely critical that we work together to maximize the safety of our entire community.”

Students are asked to participate only in essential activities until February 8. Those activities include: taking COVID-19 tests, going to class, buying groceries, going to work, individual outdoor activity, attending religious services and getting medical attention.

The chancellor said students should also refrain from traveling outside the Champaign-Urbana area once they arrive on campus.

“The target date for lifting essential activities only is Monday, Feb. 8 but it could be sooner or later depending on what the data show about virus spread,” said Jones.

All students are to participate in Return Testing. Between January 15-24, students must have two negative on-campus test results, no closer than three days apart. “Students should get their first on-campus COVID-19 test as soon as possible when they return to campus and remain in the local community.” Until they receive their second negative test result, students will have “Access Denied” status in the Safer Illinois app and Boarding Pass. After they get their two negative test results, students are asked to continue on-campus COVID-19 testing twice-per-week.

Students will be required to practice social distancing on campus and wear face coverings in university facilities unless they are alone in a private space, according to Jones. Face coverings will also be required in outdoor campus spaces where social distancing is not possible.

They will also be required to comply with quarantine and isolation guidelines from both the University and Champaign-Urbana Public Health District.

Students who do not comply with all COVID-related expectations will face university disciplinary action, said Jones. That includes up to dismissal. “Please note that this semester, students who are out of compliance may also lose access to university Wi-Fi, Zoom, Compass and other technologies.”

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