Rising Covid-19 Cases on Illinois College Campuses

Photo Credit: Daily Nonpareil – Getty Images

Syeda Saberi – News Editor

Illinois health officials reported nearly 1,360 new Covid cases bringing the total statewide Covid count to 277,266. University campuses in Illinois are seeing a similar trend as more students are testing positive for Covid-19 since returning to campus.

The University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign is facing a challenge with more than 330 new Covid cases in a span of two days. Since the University opened up back in August, nearly 1,000 students on campus have tested positive with 800 still in quarantine. The UIUC Chancellor, Robert Jones, sent out an email to students stating that he expects students to limit their in person interactions starting Wednesday and submit to twice a week Covid tests.

“Students who do not comply with campus COVID-19 rules or who fail to follow any instructions from Champaign-Urbana Public Health District will face immediate suspension,” Jones stated.

Many believe that it is a smaller group of students who are adding to the large number of positive cases by not adhering to social distancing, hosting parties with large gatherings in small spaces, and refusing to wear face masks. Marisa Hardwick stated in an article by WGLT* that she “isn’t surprised that there are now more than twice as many Covid cases on campus”.

“The type of school this is, and the community that it is — it’s not a quiet school, you know. It’s known for being a party location,” Hardwick states.

Such is the case at Illinois State University where 1,334 Covid cases were confirmed among staff and students**. Students at ISU are offered free Covid testing regardless of symptoms however it is not mandatory for students to submit proof of a negative test as of yet. The school announced that they will require students to be tested soon but a date has yet to be given.

“I think the ISU administration kind of missed the ball on this one. They keep saying that they’re watching and waiting,” stated Sue Rovens in an interview with WGLT.

Nicholas Roberts, a transfer student at ISU stated the following “I wouldn’t say they’re in denial about the things that are going on, because I’m sure they’re well aware, I think that they’re just not necessarily putting other people’s concerns before their own.”

Benedictine University on the other hand continues to see numbers in the single digits. On September 17th, 3 additional students from Ondrak tested positive for COVID, resulting in a full dorm lockdown of Ondrak Hall. The quarantine was lifted on Monday September 21st, at 5:00 pm, allowing students who stayed on campus in order to quarantine to return to classes safely. Those who had left the dorm to quarantine back at home are being asked to submit proof of negative test results before coming back to campus.

* https://www.wglt.org/post/tale-two-schools-covid-19-testing-illinois-campuses#stream/0

** https://coronavirus.illinoisstate.edu/dashboard/