Spring semester COVID-19 guidance
Dear students, faculty and staff,
As a follow-up to President Killeen’s message about spring semester COVID-19 guidance, we want to share a few important updates for the UIC campus that will take effect Jan. 9.
We are seeing increases in COVID-19 infection and hospitalizations, increases in COVID-19 surveillance in wastewater sampling, along with increases in influenza illness and hospitalization. Recent holiday gatherings provided an opportunity for spreading these respiratory viruses. Please use caution as you return to campus, choose wisely when you unmask around those outside your household, do not come to work or school if you have symptoms of a respiratory virus, get tested and evaluated for possible treatment if indicated, and stay up to date with vaccinations for influenza and COVID-19. Here are some other helpful reminders to keep everyone safe as we begin the spring semester:
COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters are strongly encouraged to prevent severe illness. UI Health will continue to follow regulatory requirements for healthcare worker vaccination.
The campus will test wastewater samples twice weekly during spring semester to monitor for respiratory viruses like Influenza, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and COVID-19. This early warning system will allow the university to make informed public health decisions based on current data in our community.
COVID-19 saliva testing
UIC will continue to offer SHIELD Illinois on-campus saliva testing at the main campus and at the regional campuses in Rockford and Peoria and at the Law School. Mandatory COVID-19 testing is no longer required for unvaccinated individuals. Beginning Jan. 9, individuals testing on-campus will self-collect and self-register their saliva sample using SHIELD Illinois’ “Point and Click” system. This is the same portal where you obtain your test results. Carefully follow the instruction sheet provided at the testing sites and view an instructional video to activate your self-collection test kit. Testing kits may be picked up and returned to any on-campus location. For additional information about COVID-19 saliva testing and on-campus locations, visit UIC’s saliva testing webpage.
Masks continue to be required in classrooms, lecture centers, research labs, libraries and learning/success centers, health care settings (including the Counseling Center), and on UIC shuttles and buses. Masking is highly encouraged in other settings, including at events, but it is a choice based on personal risk. Masks are available for UIC community members at Student Center East, Student Center West, Student Services Building and the libraries.
Instructors/lecturers may take off their mask to lecture when greater than 6 feet from the audience/students.
In-person, university-sponsored extracurricular activities (on or off campus) that bring together individuals outside of their primary job responsibilities or duties should continue to be registered in advance. Participation in social events remains a personal choice and should not be considered compulsory. Any event that requests deviations from the guidelines on the event registration page must submit a safety plan for review and approval by the Environmental Health & Safety Office at least one week in advance of the event.
Travel is not restricted due to COVID-19. Travelers are advised to review UIC travel guidelines.
According to standard university practice, the university requires faculty, staff and students traveling for essential university business to obtain prior approval from their unit head. As of Monday, Dec. 5, 2022, the University COVID-19 Pre-travel Unit/department Head Approval Form is no longer required for travel, T-Card reconciling or reimbursement.
All members of our UIC community are encouraged to comprehensively assess the risks and essential activities that may require university-sponsored, domestic out-of-state or international travel. The International Travel Safety Policy remains in effect. This policy requires all student, staff and faculty traveling internationally with UIC-authorization to enroll their travel using the International Travel Safety website.
Please continue to report COVID-19 symptoms and exposures to a COVID-positive individual using the online reporting tool. If you are in doubt, stay home to protect co-workers, fellow students, friends and family. Your kindness and understanding during these situations are appreciated.
Robert Barish, MD, MBA
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs
Susan Bleasdale, MD
Chief Quality Officer and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Quality and Patient Safety