Colleges battle COVID-19

Rachel Greene, Editor-in-chief

As college campuses settle into a semester like one they have never seen before, COVID-19 has begun to settle in as well. 


While Western Illinois University has recently encountered a rise in cases, it is not the only Midwestern college to be facing this increase. One infographic gives a comparison of 13 Midwestern schools and their COVID-19 cases. The cases, which are listed by the percentage of the student population testing positive, range from a high of around 5 percent to a low of around 0.1 percent. This data is from Aug. 26 and cases continue to rise at each institution.


An article titled “How ISU is Faring with COVID-19 Compared To Other Midwest College Towns” said, “In Normal, the spike in cases among ISU students prompted the Town of Normal on Friday to enact two emergency orders, including a temporary ban on large gatherings near campus. Other college towns have taken similar steps.” While Macomb has not placed a formal ban on events, the university has made its stance against large gatherings and parties well-known in various emails and a video posted by Interim President Martin Abraham. 


In another article published in the Chicago Tribune titled “‘I see a disaster in the making.’ Professors slam reopening plans at Illinois colleges amid COVID-19 crisis, prompting some schools to reverse course,” Elyssa Cherney and Claire Hao said. “But a recent uptick in statewide coronavirus cases has renewed concerns. On Saturday, Illinois announced the fourth straight day with more than 1,200 new cases, resulting in the highest seven-day rolling average since late May. In all, Illinois tallied about 170,000 known cases. Under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan, colleges can begin offering in-person classes in phase four, which the state entered June 26. Gatherings of 50 or fewer people are allowed in phase four, but college campuses likely won’t return to pre-pandemic operations until the state enters the final phase, and that can happen only when there’s a vaccine, an effective and widely available treatment, herd immunity or a sustained drop in cases.”


The aforementioned article mentions various schools in Illinois and the surrounding area and their individual procedures regarding COVID-19. In regards to the increase in COVID-19 cases on our campus and statewide, Student Member to the Board of Trustees Justin Brown said, “I am slightly concerned as cases begin to increase across the state of Illinois, specifically within the field of higher education. I am confident that Western Illinois University has the right measures in place to prevent a large scale outbreak like those that have been seen at various other institutions across the nation. It is not just the responsibility of the university or administration to enforce these measures, but rather the responsibility of all of the students attending classes at Western. During this unique time on our campus, being a responsible student means wearing your mask, following directional arrows in campus buildings, washing your hands, avoiding large gatherings and making the decision not to party, even when you step off campus.”


The Western Courier will continue to monitor COVID-19 trends both on campus and throughout the nation.