Dear fellow Salukis,
Southern Illinois University Carbondale is on track to resume in-person classes and activities this fall, and we intend to do our part to keep it that way. To protect the campus community, we continue to strongly encourage students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated and to require masks and social distancing for people who are not fully vaccinated.
Throughout the country, universities have been determining whether or not to require students and employees to be vaccinated. As we weighed the complexities of this issue, we sought input from SIU constituency groups representing students, faculty and staff, and we received varied perspectives. We appreciate Salukis sharing their ideas and reasoning. We understand people on all sides of this issue have strongly held views, and we urge everyone in our campus community to treat each other with empathy and respect. We made our decision in the best interest of our university and our students, faculty and staff.
Throughout the pandemic, we made our plans with guidance from public health experts, including those in the Jackson County Health Department, Illinois Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Our science- and data-based approach has yielded positive results. On our campus, we’ve had less than eight new positive cases each week since February, including four weeks with no new positive cases. In fact, of 22 Illinois colleges and universities, we have the lowest total number of positive student cases per 1,000.
As we prepare for fall, here are some issues you should be aware of:
Vaccines: The vaccines against COVID-19 have been proven a safe and effective way to protect yourself and others. It’s why we have actively promoted them to our students, faculty and staff by newsletters and social media and will continue to do so. Plans are underway to hold vaccination clinics in the fall. But if you would like to get vaccinated before fall classes start, visit vaccines.gov.
Face masks: Our face mask policy, which we modified in May, will remain in place this fall. People who are fully vaccinated are no longer required to wear masks in most situations but may choose to wear a mask as they deem appropriate, such as a crowded indoor setting. People who are not fully vaccinated are required to wear masks in public spaces if they cannot practice social distancing.
Testing: Testing for COVID-19 will be available to faculty, staff and students, regardless of whether they are exhibiting symptoms. Like fall 2020, we will work in partnership with Southern Illinois Healthcare and will provide details at a later time.
Residence halls: Students living in on-campus housing will have their own rooms, as they have for several years. While we hope for few cases of COVID this fall, we have set aside a residence hall for isolation.
Trends are moving in the right direction. Vaccinations are up — more than 70% of Illinoisans age 18 and older have received at least one dose — and illnesses from COVID are down. Recently, the state entered Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois plan — the new normal. Even though we are optimistic we will remain in the new normal, we will continue to monitor the situation and adjust our plans accordingly. For the latest information, visit siu.edu/coronavirus. You can also email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am proud of how Salukis have responded to this global crisis. You have shown again and again how much you care for each other. I look forward to seeing you this fall.