Our Approach to Safety

Last updated March 25, 2021

Our Approach to Safety

UIS has established the following principles to guide the decision-making for operations during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. Prioritize the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, visitors and community members.
  2. Preserve the mission and vision of the University and continue to advance the overarching goal of the Strategic Compass—to provide a premier educational experience for all students both in and out of the classroom.
  3. Be guided by best practices across all planning and decision-making.
  4. Utilize transparency and shared governance to support the best possible decisions.

Additionally, the University of Illinois System announced in June 2020 its key elements for on-campus operations at all three U of I universities during the pandemic.

Health and Wellness Practices: Personal Behaviors

The following behaviors are expected and required of all UIS students, faculty and staff, regardless of vaccination status:

  1. Face coverings that cover the nose and mouth must be worn when inside university facilities in all common areas (hallways, lobbies, elevators, break rooms, etc.), including classrooms. When on university property outside of buildings, face coverings must be worn when a six-foot physical distance from others is not possible.
    1. Students who are medically unable to wear a face covering should contact the Office of Disability Services. Faculty and staff who are medically unable to wear a face covering should contact Human Resources.
    2. All students and faculty/staff taking classes or working on-site will be provided with two washable and reusable cloth facemasks. Employees will be provided access to personal protective equipment (PPE) as required.
  2. A six-foot physical distance from others must be maintained whenever possible.
  3. All students, faculty and staff working, living or learning on the UIS campus must participate in the weekly COVID-19 testing program. Certain individuals must test once or twice per week, depending on how often they are on campus or as directed by the COVID-19 Rapid Response Team.
  4. All students, faculty and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 or been identified as a close contact must promptly comply with directives from the UIS Testing Team to isolate or quarantine.
    1. Individuals who test positive will be directed to isolate for approximately 10 days by the UIS Testing Team, the appropriate public health department or their medical care provider.
    2. Individuals deemed a close contact will be directed to quarantine for up to 14 days by the UIS Testing Team, the appropriate public health department or their medical care provider.
    3. UIS has procedures in place to support students who need to isolate or quarantine on campus or at their off-campus residence. Students must strictly adhere to isolation and quarantine directives. Students will need to communicate with Health Services before returning to non-quarantine activity on campus.
    4. Employees who have been directed to quarantine or isolate should immediately inform their supervisor about their absence and contact Human Resources.
    5. The UIS COVID-19 Rapid Response Team (CRRT) monitors the number of positive test results within the university community, advises UIS administration regarding any operational decision points related to testing numbers, and deploys resources (cleaning, security, etc.) to support a comprehensive response to known cases on campus.
  5. Gatherings that conflict with federal, state, local or university guidelines are prohibited on university property. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a “gathering” at UIS includes 10 or more individuals. For permission to host a gathering on campus, please review the UIS Gathering Guidelines.
  6. Campus guests should be considered an exception rather than part of general operations. Whenever possible, UIS faculty, staff and students should employ creative ways to engage with non-university individuals virtually. Please review the UIS Campus Guest Guidelines for more detailed information.
  7. All members of the UIS community diagnosed with or living with a person determined to have COVID-19, or who have been otherwise identified as a close contact to a confirmed COVID-19 case, are expected to follow public health guidance, including directives involving isolation or quarantine, testing and cooperation with contact tracing.
    1. UIS employees (faculty/staff) who are exhibiting signs of COVID-19 but have not received a positive test result should remain at home and follow guidance from their primary care physician regarding testing.
    2. If an employee begins showing signs/symptoms of COVID-19 while on-site at work, they should leave work immediately and inform their supervisor of their absence.
    3. UIS students who are exhibiting signs of COVID-19 should remain in their residence, avoid attending classes or visiting any public space, and call UIS Health Services or their personal physician to be screened to determine the need for testing and other health-related directives. UIS Health Services and Counseling Center will provide health-care services to students via in-person and telehealth (Doxy.me) meetings.

Health and Wellness Practices: Facility Adaptations

  1. Campus facilities are set up and organized to facilitate appropriate physical distancing. Key examples of spaces include:
    1. Classrooms and laboratories
    2. Common meeting and event spaces, such as the Student Union and TRAC
    3. Student Union Food Studio
    4. Housing
    5. Offices
  2. The University has taken measures to improve air circulation in campus facilities.
  3. Hand sanitizer dispensers are located near the main entries of buildings and in elevator lobbies.
  4. Signage has been placed throughout campus to reinforce health and safety practices.
  5. Shields, panels and other barriers are utilized as appropriate to create protective, functional settings.
  6. In common areas, hard-surface furniture is positioned and spaced to meet physical distancing requirements. Excess furniture has been removed from the space, cordoned off and identified as “not for use,” or if large or immobile, identified as “not for use.”
  7. In most common areas, furniture with porous (e.g., fabric) surfaces have been removed from the space, moved within the space and cordoned off and identified as “not for use” or identified as “not for use.”

Cleaning and Disinfecting Practices

  1. The cleaning and disinfecting of classrooms, conference rooms, common and high-trafficked areas and workspaces is done daily.
  2. The university cleans and disinfects high-touch surfaces in common areas/public spaces multiple times throughout the workday.
  3. Private offices and work spaces are vacuumed on a routine basis; non-recyclable waste is emptied daily; high-touch surfaces that are clear of papers and personal items are cleaned/dusted and disinfected daily; and walls, floors, doors and partitions are spot cleaned/dusted as needed.

Teaching & Learning Guidelines

  1. For the 2020-21 academic year, UIS has determined that a blended course delivery approach would permit the University to responsibly deliver instruction to students living both on- and off-campus during the COVID-19 pandemic. Blended course delivery means some courses are delivered face-to-face; some involve both face-to-face and online instruction; and some are delivered remotely. UIS will deliver courses in this manner unless otherwise directed by the Illinois Department of Public Health or the UIS COVID-19 Rapid Response Team. UIS has provided ongoing training and support to faculty to ensure all students have an equitable opportunity to achieve course learning objectives regardless of modality.
  2. All academic enrichment programming (e.g., ECCE Speaker Series, Study Away programs, Model UN, etc.) may be restructured (offered remotely), postponed or canceled for the duration of the pandemic.
  3. UIS is continuing to provide full academic support services with remote access to academic advisors and student success specialists.
  4. Face coverings are required in all on-campus classroom settings.
    1. Students will not be allowed to attend class without a face covering that properly covers their nose and mouth.
    2. Students who are not medically able to tolerate a face covering need to contact the Office of Disability Services prior to the start of classes.
    3. Non-compliance will result in the student being asked by the instructor to obtain a disposable mask from a designated office in the building and returning to class. In the extreme or unlikely event that someone refuses to leave the class immediately when instructed to do so, the entire class will be dismissed using appropriate physical distancing guidelines. The UIS Dean of Students will be informed, and student disciplinary action will follow.
  5. UIS has assessed the occupancy capacity of each instructional space to comply with physical distancing recommendations from the CDC and Illinois Department of Public Health as well as created cleaning and disinfecting protocols for each instructional space. Students, faculty and staff have access to disinfecting products in each classroom along with signage promoting adherence to health and safety protocols.
  6. For specialized spaces such as laboratories, studios and performance spaces, UIS has adopted technology to convert highly interactive experiences to virtual experiences while preserving the quality of learning where possible, as well as incorporated additional safety measures to enhance safety of students and faculty who are in labs, studios and music practice rooms.

Student Life Guidelines

  1. Measures have been implemented for students living in on-campus housing to prioritize health and safety.
    1. Students have the option to purchase a single residence hall space.
    2. Guests are not permitted in residential living spaces of the residence halls, nor in individual residential living spaces.
    3. The number of move-in days prior to the start of each semester has been extended to limit congestion and follow physical distancing guidelines.
    4. Regular cleaning and disinfecting of community spaces, high-traffic areas and public restrooms within residential communities occurs Monday through Friday.
    5. Students are required to wear face coverings in common areas within residential communities.
    6. Housing, dining and support services are offered to quarantined or isolated on-campus students.
  2. Dining Services in the Student Union has been adjusted to prioritize safety.
    1. Seating in designated dining areas is arranged in accordance with public health guidelines, including physical distancing and availability of hand sanitizer.
    2. Food options have been modified to encourage grab-n-go dining. No self-service is available.
    3. Food Services employees are required to wear masks and gloves when interacting with patrons.
    4. All patrons must wear face coverings when selecting their food and moving around the dining area.
  3. Campus Recreation and TRAC will comply with all state and university directives for health and fitness centers.
    1. Intramural sports are limited and follow all safety protocols.
    2. Fitness equipment is spread out to accommodate required distancing.
    3. Group fitness classes do not share equipment and make use of outdoors and the arena.
  4. Student meetings, gatherings and events will comply with all state and university directives for indoor and outdoor gatherings. Campus events during the COVID-19 pandemic may be:
    1. held as planned within the parameters of public health guidelines,
    2. delivered in a blended fashion (for example, a small number of people participating on site with electronic viewing for others),
    3. delivered entirely online, or
    4. postponed until a later date.
  5. University-sponsored travel for students align with current UI System directives and comply with Illinois Department of Public Health and CDC guidelines. Travel for Athletics competition align with GLVC and University guidance. Study Away programs are postponed until further notice.

Human Resources Guidelines

Guidance for employees during the COVID-19 pandemic is on the Human Resources website.