With confirmed COVID-19 cases in both campus communities, SIU Carbondale and SIUE are working with their respective county health departments on safety plans.

Students at both SIUC and SIUE have tested positive for COVID-19. The two students at SIUC are both staying on campus in the dorms and the SIUE student is residing off campus.

At the Board of Trustees meeting March 30, SIUC Chancellor John Dunn talked about the precautions SIUC is taking.

“On Saturday [March 28], we chose, with input from Jackson County Health Department, to quarantine 21 students living in the residence where the affected students live,” Dunn said. “Thus far, the quarantine is going well, and no one is exhibiting any signs of any kind of distress, etc.”

SIUC has a similar amount of students remaining on campus to SIUE. However, they were divided between the housing buildings, which allowed SIUC to quarantine the specific hall the infected students were living in.

Dunn said the administration is trying to limit interaction between students and food service workers on campus as much as possible.

“Related to food, we are now boxing all lunches for students who live on campus,” Dunn said. “The student approaches the table where the box lunches are, swipes their card, takes the box and returns to his or her room. This is going well, and there is no direct interaction between the student and food worker.”

However, the precautions SIUE is planning in the case a resident tests positive are different because all of the remaining students have been consolidated to Evergreen Hall and Cougar Village. Vice Chancellor for Administration Rich Walker said the university has a quarantine facility set up with four apartments in a couple of separate buildings in Cougar Village. 

“We have a quarantine facility set up in Cougar Village that they [an infected student] could go to,” Walker said. “That is, to isolate them in case they wanted to or needed to stay in Cougar Village. Of course, if they had any roommates we would follow up with their roommates to see about taking the proper precautions for cleaning and sanitizing the apartment and watching them to make sure that they don’t become symptomatic.”

Director of Health Services Riane Greenwalt said local students should call them if they believe they may have become infected so they can report it to the Madison County Health Department and work with them to notify those they have been in contact with.

“If someone thought they had contracted it, we would want them to call us so that we could give them medical attention,” Greenwalt said. “Students would have to be tested in order to know that they were positive and because they are in Madison County – and it’s a communicable disease, which means it’s reportable ... So, it wouldn’t matter if they were in Cougar or if they were in an apartment or if they were at home, it’s the same protocol. People get tested, and if it’s positive then the public health department tells you what your contacts are and then takes it from there.”

If a student residing on campus tests positive, the university would be able to go into their apartment or dorm to sanitize it after moving them to one of the quarantine apartments.

Regardless of where a sick student is residing, Walker said the university still wants to help them in whatever way they can.

“If a student were off campus and were to become infected, essentially we would follow the same principles. However we wouldn’t be able to go into someone’s private residence obviously,” Walker said. “We would still want to care for that student to the best that we can, protecting their privacy of course. If there’s a way that we can help them get prescriptions or food we want to be able to help them in that way as well even if they’re off campus.”

The Alestle will continue to update as more COVID-19 news develops.

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