Fifteen people tested positive for COVID-19 at the University of Illinois Springfield’s campus Monday.
The new cases led the university to cancel in-person classes and events for Wednesday and Thursday. The two-day pause is part of UIS’ COVID-19 response plan . The 15 positives from Monday’s 476 tests represent a 3.15% positivity rate, higher than it’s been and triggering the cancellations.
UIS Interim Chancellor Karen Whitney said the pause gives the response team time to do contact tracing and determine how long to continue remote-only learning.
“(The new cases are) so concerning and because of the conditions in the larger community, we wanted to jump into overdrive, and not wait the hours it would take to contact tracing of 15 people,” she said.
If contact tracing reveals transmission has taken place in classrooms or residence halls, for example, or Tuesday's tests show there are more cases, Whitney said they’d continue online-only instruction.
Whitney is planning an update for 4 p.m. on Wednesday via Zoom for all faculty, staff and students.
The move comes as Sangamon County reported another record daily number of confirmed COVID-19 cases at 343 on Tuesday.
Since August, UIS has required all students, faculty and staff who visit the campus to be screened for COVID-19 once a week through its saliva-based testing program.
Whitney is encouraging continued weekly testing on campus, which will remain open.
But in her email, she discouraged symptomatic individuals from getting tested on campus to avoid further spread of the virus. Instead, they should contact their physician or the UIS Health Center at 217-206-6676.
The university is instructing all gatherings, meetings and athletic practices to be postponed or canceled. Brookens Library and The Recreation and Athletic Center are closed. Food service at the Student Union will change to a grab-and-go format.
The pause does not affect UIS' plan to move all instruction online after Thanksgiving break through the end of the semester.
Whitney praised faculty and students' flexibility in responding to the change.