Campus resources shift accessibility during COVID-19


Mark Capapas

Students sit at the Courtyard Cafe at the Illini Union on Sunday. Due to COVID-19 safety protocols, new guidelines are in place to prepare for an increase of students on campus.

By Features Staff

Campus is seeing several changes to its everyday operations in order to comply with COVID-19 safety procedures. Several resources that many students rely on have changed how they can be accessed. Here is a list of campus resources and how they have adapted for the fall semester.

The Library Systems

The University Library will not return to its full services until the state of Illinois reaches Phase 5. The library will not provide collaborative spaces and general study for students and faculty this fall semester; however, the library staff is investigating how they can offer limited study spaces in the Grainger Engineering Library and Undergraduate Library. The library will also continue to offer remote reference and research consultation. 

All digital services and collections will remain available while continuing to add capacity to lend and scan books in a digital format. Items that cannot be delivered digitally will be available for pick up in the Main Library’s Marshall Gallery or in the Grainger Library Engineering Information Center. While all University owned and licensed material will be made accessible to members of the community, this request may take up to 14 days to complete.

Before entering any University library, students must present the Safer Illinois App on their mobile device, showing that they have tested negative in the last four days as well as to prove their building access is “Granted” on the screen.

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    Campus Recreation

    At this time, the ARC is the only recreational facility on campus that will be open to the public starting August 24; CRCE will be used as a COVID-19 testing site.

    Amenities such as the cardio and strength equipment, track and Gym 4 cardio space will remain open. Multi-purpose areas and services such as Learn to Swim, Intramurals, Instructional Kitchen, Food Assistance & Wellbeing, Campus Bike Center, Mindfulness Space, Group Fitness, Facility Rentals, Locker Rooms/Showers and the Auditorium will remain open.

    In order to ensure the safety for all students, faculty and staff, the ARC has developed several safety protocols. Everyone is required to wear a face covering at all times, with the exception of those unable to do so while participating in a strenuous exercise. Everyone also must keep in accordance with social distancing guidelines, staying six feet apart. No gym spaces will be allowed to have more than 50 people at one time, per IDPH guidelines. The ARC will also be implementing enhanced cleaning protocols including disinfecting agents against the virus.  

    The Union 

    The Illini Union usually operates as a hub of student activity on campus. This semester, it will be open with several new guidelines in place. 

    Everyone is required to wear a cloth face covering everywhere in the Illini Union. Common areas and high frequency touch surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected regularly using electrostatic disinfecting machines throughout the Union. Meeting room furniture on all floors will be reconfigured to allow for maximum space between people.

    Stairwells will have signs for either up or down traffic and elevators are limited to two riders at a time. Floor decals have been installed all over the union areas where customer lines form. Additionally, plexiglass shields have been added to every front-line customer service desk and counters. Doorways also have been designated as Entry, Exit or ADA to streamline foot traffic.

    Also hand sanitizer is available throughout the Union and students are encouraged to regularly sanitize their hands. The size of gatherings and student programs will be based on standards under the state reopening guidelines throughout the fall and beyond.

    The Rec Room will undergo extensive cleaning every day and has been configured to enforce social distancing. The maximum capacity in this space is 50 people. Bowling lanes will continue to operate with a maximum of three bowlers per lane. Billiard tables will only accommodate half of its original occupancy. Arcade games are limited to one player per machine unless otherwise specified and will be cleaned after each use.

    McKinley Health Center

    The McKinley Health Center has developed several guidelines to help them better serve the health concerns of students on campus. 

    All COVID-19 testing procedures will be, in part, facilitated through McKinley. Students must be tested twice a week, at least every four days.  McKinley also offers the self-administered but supervised anterior nasal surveillance method to students who qualify for an exemption to saliva-based testing. 

    McKinley visits will be altered to be a mix of telehealth and face-to-face visits throughout the fall semester for students. For face-to-face encounters, all students must be fully compliant with campus testing requirements, except when in situations requiring immediate attention. 

    Everyone entering the building will be pre-screened with a temperature check. Visits associated with respiratory problems may require COVID-19 testing and negative results within 72 hours prior to the visit and the onset of symptoms, before being seen. 

    Flu shots will be available beginning September 14. With the onset of COVID-19, McKinley emphasizes how important it is to get the flu shot this season. Flu shots will be available directly outside McKinley and various other locations on campus

    Counseling Services

    The University’s counseling services have shared their desire to continue providing students with mental health services while also adhering to the safety procedures put in place. They will have options for online appointments, phone consultations and virtual outreach programming. They will also be switching to a phone triage system to best serve the needs of the community. They will no longer be accepting unplanned drop-in meetings with counselors; patients must call the office in advance

    Students whose healthcare is provided through the University will have access to online counseling services using BetterHelp. In order to receive remote counseling through the University, however, law requires the student to be located in Illinois. They encourage students with mental health concerns who are studying remotely for the semester to call for a phone consultation. While they cannot provide actual therapy during these consultations, the counselors will be able to help students find alternative options for their mental healthcare. 

    Career Services

    The Career Center serves students around campus by providing professional advising as well as consultations on resumes, cover letters and more. They typically operate on Wright Street, but they have become virtual for the semester. Students can access drop-in advising at their regular hours through phone or Zoom. If students need documents or applications reviewed, they can submit them on the Career Center website.

    One of the biggest events hosted by the Career Center is the Career & Internship Fair in the fall and spring. As these events cannot be hosted in person, they have decided to offer the Virtual Illini Career and Internship Recruiting Week in early September. For these virtual events, recruiters will have different “rooms” set up for students to enter and find out more information about the company. They will still have the chance to speak with these recruiters as they would normally do without the risk of violating social distancing rules. Even with all of the struggles associated with COVID-19, the Career Center will do its best to aid students in preparing for their professional future. 

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