UIS Expands COVID-19 Guest & Gathering Guidelines

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Photographs courtesy of News.uis.edu

With the current two-pronged health issue of COVID-19 and flu season in full effect, UIS has been monitoring the national and statewide situation, modifying protocol as needed.

            On Oct. 23, Associate Chancellor Kelsea Gurski contacted UIS students and employees to inform them of an update in the United in Safety guidelines regarding campus guests and get-togethers. She strongly encouraged those on campus to establish remote contact whenever possible. The vast majority of the time, guests should not be permitted on campus. Gurski defined “campus guest” as the following: “an individual not directly associated with the university (actively employed or an active student) who is visiting UIS”. This includes friends and family members.

            When a guest is allowed on campus, there are certain protocols to follow, found on the UIS website. This link also outlines the differences in groups of people that may visit and if they have special stipulations. A gathering, defined by the university as “10 or more individuals,” has its own set of guidelines to be abided by. Additionally, those planning on hosting a gathering are required to complete a Campus Gathering Request Form at least 14 days prior to the intended gathering date.

            Although these have already been well-established caveats this semester in the Return to the Prairie Plan, they are worth mentioning in accordance with these updates. Hosts desiring to book space in Residence Life, TRAC, the Student Union, or Conference Services must do so via UISConnection. Also, gatherings of 25 or more people are diligently vetted by the Office of Student Life and the COVID-19 Rapid Response Team on an as-needed basis. As of Oct. 30, gatherings of 25 or more people have been banned until further notice.

            The possibility of holding large gatherings on campus is becoming less likely by the minute as the positivity rate has been climbing steadily. Interim Chancellor Whitney stated in a separate email update that, as of Oct. 26, the positivity rate in the region is at 7.8 percent. Whitney also added that the majority of coronavirus cases on campus have arisen as a result of visits off-campus with friends and family. As such, she reminds everyone to abide by CDC Guidelines and protect themselves, as well as others, when in contact with other people.

            While the email update did not mention penalties or other forms of reprimand, the UIS Gathering Guidelines page (see above) state that the event will be cancelled if these guidelines are not followed or, presumably, if the request was denied. Further penalties or discipline may ensue if campus policies are broken.