New COVID-19 protocols enforced for a new semester

Rachel Greene, Editor-in-chief

MACOMB, Ill. (NEWS3)  — With a new calendar  year, a new University president and a new semester  came new COVID-19 protocols. Faced with less un certainty than last semester  but still proceeding with a  sense of caution, new protocols that have been put  in place are more concrete  than they were previously.  

In a post on his Facebook  page, the new Western Illinois University President Guiyou Huang wrote,  “Please take a moment to  read about the updates and  protocols for Spring 2021  so we can have a safe and healthy in-person experience. I look forward to  meeting our students, faculty and staff as they return for the spring semester.” The aforementioned up dates included a new man date that all students mov ing into the residence halls  for the spring semester  were required to show a  negative COVID-19 test that  had been administered recently prior to being given  their room keys. If students  did not want to adhere to  this, they were required to  either quarantine in Bayliss  Hall for two weeks or leave  campus. This mandate was  something that the University did not enforce in  the fall.  

In an email from the Western Illinois University Office of Risk Management,  Joe Roselieb, Executive Di rector of Auxiliary Services  and Risk Management said,  “Our goal is to quickly identify individuals who may  be symptomatic, and iso late them safely to help stop  the spread of COVID-19.  As part of the Leatherneck  Pledge, it is the expectation  that all individuals follow  these protocols to keep our  campuses safe.” 

“I am very happy that the  University required students to get tested before coming back to campus this  semester.” said senior student Allison Glover. “Over  the long break, many students went home to highly populated areas and I personally feel safer knowing  that these students tested  negative prior to return ing. Even though COVID-19  can be caught at any time  and these students could  be positive now, I think this  mandate was a step in the  right direction. Last semester cases seemed to spike  at the beginning of the semester so it is my hope that  by testing we have avoided  that surge.” 

Testing is available for  free currently on both the  Macomb and Quad Cities  campuses. While it is not  mandatory for students residing off campus to get  tested, the University is encouraging them to do their  part in stopping the spread  of COVID-19. Currently, events on campus are being  approved on a case by case  basis and are limited to 10  people or less. The mandate regarding masks on campus that was put in place  last semester still stands  and social distancing is  still encouraged.  

At this point, no statement  has been made by Western  Illinois University regard ing whether or not more  mandatory testing will be  enforced for students this  semester or if the university  will distribute the newly approved COVID-19 vaccine  to students. There has also  been no statement made regarding whether or not the  vaccine will be mandatory  for students on campus or students in general.