Virtual Town Hall key takeaways

Dear faculty, students and staff, 

Thank you to those who joined the recent Virtual Town Hall. Your questions and feedback guided the Town Hall, so thank you for your time and participation. We are greatly appreciative of your continued commitment and resolve to keep UIC safe. 

While many of you are ready to return to in-person learning and shared experiences, we understand the concerns and frustrations that COVID-19 continues to bring, and we are committed to listening and responding to your concerns while remaining adaptable and flexible in this ever-changing landscape. 

If you missed the Town Hall, please see below direct video clips to some of the most frequently asked questions.  

How do we know it is safe to return to campus?(17:00) 

The combination of vaccinations, our mask policy, and the decreasing positivity rate on campus make it safe to return to campus and in-person instruction. Gathering unmasked was the main contributing factor of infections peaking locally and nationally during and just after the holidays. So, while vaccinations do prevent severe illness and hospitalization, proper use of masks is our best form of defense. 

Will hybrid or fully remote options for classes be available this semester? (52:06) 

Spring semester courses begin Monday, Jan. 24, and will remain within the instruction modality identified for the course during fall registration. For example, if listed as a face-to-face class, the class will remain in-person. Similarly, if the course was listed as hybrid, synchronous or asynchronous, then it will be taught in the corresponding modality. Additional spring semester guidance regarding temporary changes in course modality due to COVID-19 is available online.

Why is there no physical distancing in classrooms? (18:55) 

Our classroom seating arrangements, which follow the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the Illinois Department of Public Health’s guidance, do not require distancing. In the fall, we did not see transmission within classrooms. Masking is our primary prevention, and masks are required in all classrooms. 

What are UIC’s testing requirements? (20:57) 

Students, staff and faculty are required to test within three days, or 72 hours, before or after returning to campus. Testing capacity on campus will more than double starting next week. You may test at any location and should check the saliva testing webpage for up-to-date hours and information.

UIC will accept a PCR or an antigen re-entry test. If the tests are conducted on campus, they will be automatically uploaded, so you do not have to do anything after testing. Off-campus tests must be submitted online. Anyone who has tested positive for the virus in the last 90 days will not be required to test.

The ongoing testing requirements include: 

  • Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated students, faculty and staff with an approved medical or religious exemption are required to test twice per 7-day period, 48 or more hours apart. 
  • All students, faculty and staff in residential housing and performing arts are required to test once per 7-day period, regardless of vaccination status. 
  • Student athletes will continue to follow testing directives from UIC Athletics. 
  • All students, faculty and staff will be asked to participate in periodic surveillance saliva testing when contacted by email. This surveillance testing initiative will help to quickly identify and closely monitor the prevalence of infection in our community.

Why are the isolation and quarantine guidance for UIC different from the CDC? (26:47) 

UIC only deviates from the CDC guidelines with regards to isolation, not quarantine. While the CDC permits release from isolation on day 5, it does not allow individuals to eat around others, unmask around others in their household or workplace, or travel for an additional 5 days. By retaining a 10-day isolation period, UIC is providing an additional safety measure. 

Quarantine guidance will vary for those exposed to COVID-19, depending on vaccination status and low-, medium- or high-risk exposure. UIC Contact Tracing will provide the most up-to-date guidance for individuals who test positive or those who have been exposed to COVID-19. 

UIC’s updated isolation and quarantine procedures utilize Illinois Department of Public Health and CDC Considerations for Institutions of Higher Education. 

What type of mask should I use and will they be provided on campus?(36:40) 

Your mask should cover your nose and mouth and fit snugly. If wearing a medical/procedure mask or a cloth mask, which should be two layers, it should fit snug to your face to eliminate gaps on the sides. Double masking with a procedural mask underneath a cloth mask is advised to encourage a tighter fit. It is our responsibility to hold each other accountable and to wear masks properly by fully covering your nose and mouth. 

The campus will distribute KN95 and medical/procedural masks on campus. Students will be able to request them at Student Center East and Student Center West, and at campus libraries. In addition, colleges and units will distribute masks to employees. Masking is required indoors on campus, including in classrooms, except when alone in a private office or personal residence hall room, or when an individual has a medical condition, disability or other reason that prevents them from safely wearing a face mask.  

What about hybrid work options for staff? (46:42) 

The campus follows the protocols of the University of Illinois System Human Resources, which are dependent on the operational needs of the department. The campus telecommuting policy is available on UIC Human Resources webpage. 

Visit the COVID-19 resource webpage for detailed and continuously updated information and answers to FAQs. In addition, visit the following webpages for specific and pertinent COVID-19 guidance:
UIC’s response to COVID-19
Spring semester guidance for students and instructors
Vaccines, boosters, flu shots
Free COVID tests 
Saliva/PCR testing
UIC COVID-19 Reporting Tool
Contact Tracing
Daily Pass and Healthcheck
Campus resources for students 
Classroom interactivity and attendance tool
Human Resources guidance for managers and employees 
Employee mental health resources

Thank you for your collective efforts and patience in adjusting and adhering to spring semester protocols and best practices that will allow us to keep all our communities healthy and safe. As always, we will continue to keep you informed should public health conditions change. 

Wishing you a healthy and safe spring semester! 

Michael Amiridis

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