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EIU Media Relations

A Message to Our Charleston and Coles County Community

Aug-17-2020

To our Charleston and Coles County Community –

Eastern Illinois University’s fall classes are scheduled to begin August 24. As many of you know, the University has worked diligently throughout the past four months to establish procedures and protocols aimed at safeguarding our students, our employees, and our neighbors.

We take our role as a community partner seriously, so it’s important to keep our community informed. That’s why today, I appreciate this opportunity to share a summary of the policies and protocols EIU has put in place to protect our faculty, students, staff, and community members from the spread of Covid-19 on campus and in the community this academic year. While I encourage everyone in the community to explore the more-detailed overview available on our website (https://www.eiu.edu/covid/), the most critical components of our Return-to-Campus plan are summarized below:

  • Students and employees are required to wear protective facemasks in all shared or public campus spaces.
  • Students and employees are required to maintain a minimum distance of six feet in all shared or public spaces.
  • Strategic scheduling by appointment on Move-In Days will minimize traffic, building, and floor densities across campus.
  • Free Covid-19 testing for employees and students will take place at various times in August. We realize that this mass testing may create a spike of positive case reporting in Coles County, but it is essential for us to conduct these tests in order to immediately isolate/quarantine students and employees that test positive. Ongoing testing will be available in the EIU Medical Clinic throughout the semester.
  • EIU is working with community health partners to accurately and responsibly track any EIU-related cases.
  • All students and employees are encouraged to self-screen daily. Those feeling even slightly ill are being asked to self-isolate and/or stay home.
  • More than 50 percent of EIU’s Fall 2020 classes are being offered fully or partially online to limit student density in shared academic spaces. Most of our in-person courses are at the freshman/sophomore level to assist new students with the transition to university level learning in the most effective manner for student success. EIU’s faculty have been given the opportunity to work with the University in determining how they wish to approach their upper-level courses as in-person, totally online or hybrid – a mix of in-person and online class meetings.
  • EIU faculty and staff that have underlying medical conditions that place them in greater risk of the deleterious effects of Covid-19 have been provided accommodation to work remotely.
  • The university is implementing a flex schedule, when possible, for employees needing help with child care for their young children who are home because of shortened school hours or online schooling.
  • University Housing will provide single-occupancy rooms throughout the entire academic year and restrict outside visitors.
  • Dining areas will enforce spacing requirements and reduced seating, as well as provide take-out options.
  • Meetings, events, programs, and services will be held virtually wherever possible. Any in-person meetings must limit participants and observe EIU’s social-distancing guidelines.
  • Increased supplies of soap, water, paper towels, and hand sanitizer will be made available throughout campus.

EIU’s decisions and associated guidelines are based on the joint medical and professional advice developed by the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Illinois Governor’s Office, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the State’s Restore Illinois plan, and the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE). Our Return-to-Campus plan also assumes Illinois will remain in Phase 4 of the State’s Restore Illinois plan, which allows universities to offer face-to-face learning provided they follow the safety and health strategies issued by those entities.

As a partner with the Charleston and Coles County community, we believe it important to share data concerning positive cases of Covid-19 among our students and employees. Since the first case of a positive Covid-19 test associated with EIU was reported on July 13, 2020, the Coles County Health Department has informed us that 36 students and 7 employees have tested positive for Covid-19 as of August 12, 2020—all of whom were directed to quarantine in compliance with State directives. The university will continue to report Covid-related campus data on a weekly basis. The data will be generated and supplied to EIU by the Coles County Health Department and other sources and posted on the EIU website.

The science has been reasonably clear with regard to Covid-19 prevention. Wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing, washing hands, limiting gatherings and interactions are required of all of us and we will enforce these obligations on University employees and students. We implore all businesses and especially those specific establishments that cater to EIU students to strictly enforce the wearing of masks and social distancing. No masks, no entry. By actions of our businesses being vigilant against anyone who is not practicing safe public health measures will help immeasurably to keep the transmission of the virus as low as possible.

Despite the challenges we face, EIU is committed to providing the best possible learning experience to our students in as healthy and safe an environment as possible. We are working very closely in partnership with our city officials, the Coles County Health Department and Sarah Bush Lincoln Hospital System.  We thank these agencies for their outstanding guidance and support.

EIU’s success this fall—and the success of Coles County in continuing to reduce the spread of Covid-19— will undoubtedly place shared responsibility on the University, its students and employees, community members, and each other. EIU is committed to working tirelessly to navigate these challenges together.

Sincerely,

David Glassman
President, Eastern Illinois University

 

 

 

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Contact Information

Media Relations
Josh Reinhart, Public Information Coordinator

2142 Old Main
Eastern Illinois University
600 Lincoln Ave.
Charleston, IL 61920
217-581-7400
Fax: 217-581-8444
jdreinhart@eiu.edu


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