University student dismissed for COVID violation


Photo Courtesy of Champaign-Urbana Public Health District

Employees work at their computers in the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District’s operations center. CUPHD is responsible for all contact tracing in Champaign County.

By Aliza Majid and Amrita Bhattacharyya

One student has been dismissed from the University for a COVID-related violation, student conduct officials confirmed on Thursday. 

The dismissal was issued by the Subcommittee on Undergraduate Student Conduct. The University has not disclosed which policy the student violated. 

Like all University dismissals, the student may petition to return to the University at “an identified future semester,” Dean of Student Support and Advocacy Stephen Bryan and Student Affairs spokesperson Chantelle Thompson wrote in an email. 

This dismissal is different from the eight “interim suspensions” that have been issued to other students who’ve violated COVID-related policies. 

Interim suspensions are issued by the Chancellor. Students are granted a formal hearing with the appropriate subcommittee on student conduct, Bryan and Thompson wrote. 

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“Such action is taken only in situations in which the student’s behavior puts the safety of the University community at risk,” they added.  

At the hearing, the proceedings are “limited to the question of whether continuation of the suspension is necessary to avoid an obvious danger to the university community,” according to the University’s Student Disciplinary Procedures. 

The suspension period lasts until a “final decision” on the case’s outcome is reached, Thompson and Bryan wrote. 

Students can return to classes once their suspensions are lifted, but they must communicate with their colleges about appropriate academic procedures. 

For dismissals, a student must petition to the University to be readmitted, and there is no preliminary hearing. 

During a dismissal or suspension, a student is not allowed to enroll in any classes, nor can they complete their degree through the University. 

However, while students’ disciplinary cases are under investigation, the students can still take classes, Bryan and Thompson wrote. 

Students have been reprimanded this semester for violating COVID rules such as “failing to wear masks or social distance, hosting dangerous gatherings without taking proper precautions, violating isolation and quarantine orders, ignoring communications from the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District and failing to comply with the testing requirement,” they added.

Though the two-week stay-at-home order has been lifted, the University and public health officials continue to urge students to limit their in-person activities on campus due to the surge in cases three weeks back, said Awais Vaid, the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District administrator.

About 80-90% of new COVID-19 cases in Champaign County in the last month have been attributed to campus, especially Private Certified Housing and Greek housing, Vaid said. 

The CUPHD has been working with the University to review and recommend COVID-19 policies. This includes disinfecting practices and how much to limit social gatherings.

University Housing has set aside 5% of their rooms specifically for quarantine or isolation purposes, spokesperson Chelsea Hamilton said. 

Student isolation and quarantine have slightly different procedures, Hamilton said. 

“Isolation is set aside for a student who has tested positive for COVID-19 and they are required to isolate for 10 days,” she said. “They are not able to just test out of the system or test of isolation. And then they are released by CUPHD.”  

A student must quarantine when CUPHD contact tracers determine that the student had prolonged exposure to someone who recently tested positive for COVID-19. 

While in quarantine or isolation, students must stay in their room at all times except when they have to use the restroom or pick up an item at the contactless doorway in their hall.

Quarantining students may go to a testing site on the fifth day of their quarantine, but they must quarantine for 14 days total and cannot test out of it, since the incubation period for the virus can last up to two weeks. 

Quarantining students are held in separate wings from isolating students. 

The housing professional staff communicates these safety regulations to residents when they first move into isolation and quarantine spaces, according to Hamilton. 

“But just like any rules within university housing, once we communicate, it’s really up to the student to then abide by those rules,” Hamilton said. 

The University’s seven-day new case positivity rate is currently at 0.32% and has been steadily declining according to the SHIELD Testing Data. 

“It seems like communication and education with the administration, the city mayors and electorate officials is actually making a big difference and we are seeing cases starting to come down,” Vaid said.

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